Sexual harassment can take on many forms. Employees who face such harassment may not know how to approach the situation or even what rights they have. According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 90% of individuals who say they have experienced harassment never take formal action, such as filing a complaint. They may even fear for their job if they decide to speak up.
However, the law protects employees who experience harassment on the job, and those harmed may be entitled to compensation under certain circumstances. If you have faced unwanted sexual advances or other offensive conduct at the workplace, the Scottsdale sexual harassment lawyers at Shields Petitti and Zoldan are here to help.
What Is Considered Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Both federal and Arizona law prohibits workplace sexual harassment by any employers, labor organizations, or employment agencies. The EEOC defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This behavior may be actionable in the following situations:
- When objecting to such conduct influences employment decisions, such as hiring and job promotions;
- When enduring or ignoring such conduct is implicitly or explicitly part of a worker’s terms of employment; or
- When the conduct creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive environment that interferes with an employee’s performance.
The first two examples are known as quid pro quo harassment, which is when an employee’s job depends upon accepting or enduring the harassment. However, providing an exact definition of a hostile work environment can be complicated due to its subjectivity.
What Is a Hostile Work Environment?
Even though many employees experience hostility or other discomfort at work, this does not mean that their conditions meet the EEOC’s definition of a hostile work environment. Factors that courts consider include:
- Was the conduct discriminatory? The conduct in question must have a discriminatory purpose and be directed against a protected group. In other words, the actions must target an employee’s protected characteristic negatively.
- Was the conduct pervasive? Single instances of hostile behavior are unlikely to qualify. Instead, the conduct must be pervasive enough to interfere with the employee’s ability to do their job.
- Was the conduct unwelcome? The conduct in question must be unwanted by the person it is being directed at.
- Was the conduct unreasonable? While defining hostile behavior can be subjective, certain behaviors are serious enough to be unreasonable. This includes causing physical discomfort or pain, directing curse words or slurs at a protected person, and adverse employment actions.
Each case is different and fact-specific. For more information about your situation, contact Shields Petitti and Zoldan, employment and sexual harassment lawyers in Scottsdale.
What Are Common Workplace Sexual Harassment Scenarios?
Sexual harassment in the workplace can come in several forms: verbal, written, nonverbal, physical, and visual. The following are a few examples of some common types of workplace sexual harassment:
- Unwanted or inappropriate touching,
- Lewd jokes or comments,
- Indecent exposure,
- Inappropriate gifts or invitations,
- Demanding sexual conduct as a condition of employment,
- Demanding sexual conduct as a condition for promotion or other job placement, and
- Inappropriate comments based on someone’s sex.
These are just a few examples, and the list is not exhaustive. There is a wide variety of actions that may constitute sexual harassment in the workplace. To see if your situation warrants legal action, talk to our sexual harassment attorneys in Scottsdale today.
What Is Retaliation?
Workers are often afraid to report sexual harassment. They believe that it might affect their employment status or that their working conditions may be negatively impacted as a result. If you have experienced sexual harassment, you have the right to report it. You may have a legal claim for illegal retaliation if you:
- Were demoted for reporting harassment,
- Were fired for reporting harassment, or
- Experienced other negative job impacts after reporting harassment.
An employer is responsible for the conduct of their employees, managers, and supervisors. This includes conduct retaliating against someone who reports harassment or is facing harassment on the job.
What Damages Are Available in a Sexual Harassment Suit?
Compensation for workplace sexual harassment claims can be difficult to calculate. Each case is different, and you may not be sure you have the evidence to prove that you suffered losses. This is where experienced Scottsdale sexual harassment lawyers can help. If you’ve suffered sexual harassment and file a successful claim, you are able to collect:
- Back pay, including benefits and bonuses;
- Front pay, which compensates you for wage losses you’re likely to incur from the date of your settlement or award into the future;
- Compensatory damages, including medical bills, lost property, and emotional stress; and
- Punitive damages for especially heinous conduct.
Depending on the specifics of the case, workers may receive compensation for these, as well as potentially attorney fees.
Contact Our Scottsdale Sexual Harassment Attorneys Today
If you’re experiencing sexual harassment or assault in the workplace, you don’t have to face it alone. You need the help of experienced sexual harassment lawyers in Scottsdale. The attorneys at Shields Petitti and Zoldan, PLC are committed to supporting clients’ sexual harassment matters in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the surrounding area. Our team focuses on a range of employment law matters, has over 50 years of combined experience, and has successfully recovered nearly $25,000,000 in settlements on behalf of our clients. No matter the case size or who the client is, we provide dedicated representation and zealous advocacy to help make sure your rights are protected. Give us a call to set up a consultation, or fill out our online contact form to get started today.