Every employee has the right to work in a sexual harassment-free environment. Federal and state laws prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately, many Pennsylvania employees continue to face sexual harassment daily, including unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and more.
Contact a Sexual Harassment Attorney in Pittsburgh
Sexual harassment claims can be challenging to prove. Victims who report sexual harassment may be told to drop it or might be demoted, transferred, or even terminated. Retaining an attorney before you file your complaint can help you understand your legal options and protect yourself. The employment law attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace will handle your claim from start to finish. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.
Pennsylvania Sexual Harassment Laws
The federal government and Pennsylvania have laws prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers who directly subject their employees to unlawful sexual harassment or allow other employees to engage in sexual harassment can be reported. Employees who’ve been exposed to sexual harassment or the victims of sexual harassment may have a right to file a claim against their employer.
In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) is responsible for handling sexual harassment and discrimination claims in the workplace. For those who have experienced these types claims might have the right to file a claim and report your employer through the PHRC. Additionally, the federal government has strong anti-harassment laws such as Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act.
If you have an eligible claim, you have the right to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In some cases, filing a civil lawsuit against your employer may become necessary. When you work with the experience attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan Gerace, we will carefully review the facts of your case and help you understand your legal options so you can make the best decision possible for how to proceed in your case.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment in the workplace is any type of sex-based discrimination. Harassment and discrimination may seem like separate legal issues. In a legal sense, harassment involves targeting a victim based on their sex or gender and subjecting them to different treatment because of those characteristics. As a result, when a supervisor or employee targets another employee by harassing them or making sexual advantages because of their sex, this is a type of sex discrimination. Because sexual harassment is one type of sex discrimination, it is a violation of your civil rights.
In the workplace, this type of harassment can take many forms. It may involve a co-worker, employer, or supervisor. It can also involve harassment by a client, vendor, or other third party who isn’t an employee. Those who’ve been the victims of sex discrimination have a right to file a claim with the appropriate regulatory agency or a civil lawsuit to see compensation for this violation of the law. Some of the most common forms of unlawful sexual harassment include the following:
- Sexually inappropriate jokes
- Pornography left in the workplace
- Sexual and inappropriate emails, text messages, and other material
- Inappropriate comments about a person’s body
- Demands for sexual activities accompanied by threats or promises of promotion
- Unwanted sexual touching
- Uncomfortably familiar and inappropriate physical contact
- Sexual assault
Hostile Work Environment
There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace: hostile work environment and quid pro quo. Employers are not permitted to let hostile work environment to develop at their businesses. A hostile work environment can happen when employees make derogatory or offensive words or take offense at actions based on the victim’s sex. Not all offensive comments rise to the level of a hostile work environment, however.
The harassment must be frequent or severe enough to make the victim feel uncomfortable in his or her workplace. A hostile work environment may include unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate sexual language, demeaning words, or derogatory language. Additionally, a hostile work environment may involve actions, such as unwanted touching, invading personal space, peeping, physical intimidation, or sexual assault. Employers have a legal responsibility to stop their workplace from becoming hostile. When they fail to prevent a hostile work environment, employees can bring a legal claim against them.
Quid Pro Quo
Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves someone pressuring another person to perform sexual acts in exchange for employment benefits or opportunities. Conversely, quid pro quo can happen when someone pressures another person to engage in sexual acts to avoid difficulties or penalties. For example, a manager may tell an employee that she must kiss him or he will put her on the least favorable shift or demote her pay. Most quid pro quo cases involve an employer, supervisor, or manager using their position as a way to pressure an employee or co-worker to have sex or engage in sexual acts.
If you bring a claim against your employer after being subjected to sexual harassment, sex discrimination, or sexual assault, you may be entitled to damages. There are several different types of damages you can obtain, such as:
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Back pay if you were not promoted, demoted, or transferred out of your position
- Front pay if you cannot return to your current position
- Punitive damages to punish your employer for willfully allowing this to occur
- Retroactive benefits for your loss of medical or health care coverage and other benefits
The type of damages to which you’ll be entitled will depend on the facts in your case. We recommend discussing your case with an attorney to learn how much your case is worth and how to seek damages for your harassment.
Discuss Your Sexual Harassment Case With a Pittsburgh Attorney Today
If you have experienced workplace sexual harassment, you may have a right to damages. The experinced attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace will carefully review your case and help you understand your legal options. We represent clients throughout the greater Philadelphia area and we are prepared to provide you with excellent legal representation in your case. Contact us now for a consultation.