Central Florida Sexual Harassment Lawyers
Sexual Harassment, Workplace Harassment and/or a Hostile Work Environment
The definition of sexual harassment conduct goes well beyond improper or unsolicited sexual contact between individuals at the workplace. Sexual harassment may include but is not limited to sexual advances, jokes, and/or teasing of a sexual nature, unwanted exposure to material of a sexual nature that has not been welcomed by the employee. Sexual harassment is governed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Florida Civil Rights Act, and various local laws. To fall under Title VII or the Florida Civil Rights Act, the employer must have a minimum of 15 employees (local law laws require fewer employees to qualify) and in certain circumstances may be applicable for state, local or federal employees.
Workplace harassment may include harassing conduct that is expected to be tolerated by the employee as a condition of their employment, or the creation of a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is one where the conduct is severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would consider hostile. This means that either isolated incidents or continuous, ongoing conduct can be considered harassment. Some examples of workplace harassment might be assaults, threats, exposure to unwanted material, or jokes or teasing that are offensive in nature. The harassment must somehow affect the work performance of a reasonable person to be actionable under law.
Claims for sexual harassment under Title VII and the Florida Civil Rights Act are treated as claims citing a hostile work environment. An individual bringing the claim must show that the conduct was unwelcome, based on their sex, and the acts were sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment.
The offending individual does not have to be an employer or supervisor. The person can be a fellow employee, subcontractor, or someone that is permitted to be on the workplace premises.
Sexual Harassment and Employees
Sexual Harassment at work is not only unethical, but it is also unlawful. Being a victim of sexual harassment at the workplace can be a devastating experience. Many times victims will not come forward in fear of losing their jobs. Moreover, sexual sexual harassment harassment can leave an employee feeling powerless and alone. This may change with the advent of the #MeToo movement but may be insufficient by itself. The sexual harassment attorneys at NeJame Law are not only experienced and knowledgeable in employment law but are able to analyze and evaluate common issues that arise in the workplace due to sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment has been recognized as a form of sexual discrimination and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Florida Civil Rights Act prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender. For the most part, claims must be filed with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) within 300 days of the date of harassment or with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (“FCHR”) within 365 days of the date of harassment. This can often be accomplished with one filing that covers both agencies. A successful sexual harassment claim may award back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, reinstatement, front pay and attorney fees.
Common forms of Sexual Harassment
Sexually harassing conduct may consist of an offensive comment about an individual’s body parts or dress, unwanted touching or other physical contact, jokes of a sexual nature or exposure of sexual conduct, in addition to sexual intercourse without the individual’s consent. A key to maintaining a sexual harassment lawsuit is whether the conduct would negatively affect the work and/or work environment of a reasonable employee. Among common forms of sexual harassment are:
- Unwelcomed sexual advances
- Requests for sexual favors
- Direct or indirect threats or bribes for unwanted sexual activity
- Sexual innuendos and comments
- Intrusive sexually explicit questions
- Sexually suggestive sounds or gestures such as sucking noises, winks, or pelvic thrusts
- Repeatedly asking a person out for dates, or to have sex
- Touching, patting, punching, stroking, squeezing, tickling, or brushing against a person
- A neck/shoulder massage
- Rating a person's sexuality
Preparing for the Harassment Claim
Employees must first file their claim alleging workplace harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or appropriate state agency. These agencies may decide to prosecute the case on behalf of the victim or issue a Right to Sue to allow the victim to pursue a private action.
Sexual Harassment and Employers
When an employee, manager, or supervisor of a company is accused of sexual harassment, the business and its reputation is on the line. Your business has a great deal at stake and therefore needs to be prepared. The sexual harassment defense attorneys at NeJame Law in Orlando are here to assist and evaluate claims against your company for sexual harassment. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys work hard to prevent these claims and keep your business’ reputation from being tainted. At times, employees are revengeful after being fired and file fraudulent claims against the company. These are all matters that our sexual harassment defense attorneys evaluate.
Liability of the Employer
An employer or supervisor may be liable for conduct that creates a hostile work environment. The employer can avoid liability only if it reasonably tried to prevent and correct the harassing conduct, and the employee failed to avail themselves of opportunities to correct the conduct provided by the employer. Damages owed by the employer may include back pay or other damages associated with termination or other actions taken by the employer.
The Central Florida sexual harassment attorneys at NeJame Law will work diligently on your case. For instance, assist in drafting prevention and investigation policies for the company, investigating the complaint, recommend the employer to facilitate an updated zero tolerance policy and have each employee sign and acknowledge the policy. Employers also have an obligation to the alleged harasser to ensure the investigation was adequate, the claim is valid and any discipline is not excessive.
Employer Action After Harassment Claim is Filed
An employer is prohibited by Title VII and the Florida Civil Rights Act from bringing a retaliatory action against an individual that has brought a harassment claim. The offending party may be forced to pay compensatory, punitive, and other damages for engaging in retaliation against the employee.
Contact Us For Any Sexual Harassment Matters
We work closely with our clients and approach our cases with measured and appropriately aggressive strategies that are guided not only by our clients’ objectives, but also by having a respect and sensitivity to the available resources and finances available to our clients.
We determine our approach on a case-by-case basis. There is a time to settle a case and a time to go to trial. We work vigorously to evaluate the best interest for our clients as we assist them in determining whether to settle a case or to prepare and proceed to trial by fully litigating the issue through trial.
For additional information or if you need legal assistance with any sexual harassment matters, please contact a knowledgeable and experienced Orlando Sexual Harassment Attorney from the Civil Division at NeJame Law. Our sexual harassment lawyers have the skills and experience to handle both simple and complex sexual harassment cases. Contact us by phone at (407) 500-0000. You may also send us an e-mail at Civil@NeJameLaw.com or fill out the online form provided on this page.