Phoenix Sexual Harassment Lawyers
All employees deserve a workplace free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment at work is debasing and destructive, creating an uncomfortable and unsafe work environment that can lead to mental anguish and, in worst-case scenarios, physical harm. Under both Arizona and federal laws, it is also illegal.
The Phoenix sexual harassment lawyers at Shields Petitti & Zoldan, PLC, know that if you struggle with sexual harassment at your workplace, you’re probably under severe mental strain. We have decades of combined experience fighting bad actors and can help you file state and federal complaints. Our Phoenix sexual harassment lawyers have been named Top Forty Under Forty Attorneys by National Trial Lawyers, Lawyer of the Year in employment law by The Best Lawyers in America, and Super Lawyer and Super Lawyer Rising Star by Thompson Reuters. Some of our lawyers have also secured Martindale-Hubbell’s AV-Preeminent rating.
Our Phoenix sexual harassment attorneys have extensive knowledge of sexual harassment law, years of experience conducting sexual harassment investigations, and the skills necessary to build a strong case. When you work with our compassionate attorneys, you can rest assured that you’ve taken the first step toward holding the person harassing you accountable.
What Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that affects a person’s employment because the employee either submitted to or rejected the unwelcome behavior. If the conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates a hostile work environment, it is also considered sexual harassment. In both cases, the harassment must be subjectively abusive to the person affected and objectively severe and pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive.
Sexual harassment does not have to be overtly sexual and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. But it always includes unwelcome behavior. If a person welcomed the conduct, it doesn’t qualify as sexual harassment.
Men, women, transgender, queer, and non-binary people can all be victims of sexual harassment at work. Sexual harassment can also occur between two men, two women, men and women, or several different people of the same or different identities or sexes. No matter how it presents, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Arizona Law 41-1463 prohibit workplace sexual harassment.
What Are Some Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment?
There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace: quid pro quo harassment and a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo harassment is when someone conditions employment terms on submitting to unwanted sexual advances. Some examples include:
- Demanding sex in exchange for a job;
- Promising shifts, raises, or promotions in exchange for sex;
- Threatening termination if an employee refuses to have sex with a manager; and
- Threatening to make an employee’s life difficult if they refuse to submit to the harasser’s sexual advances.
A hostile work environment is present when an employee experiences unwanted and offensive behavior, including the following:
- Lewd comments about a person’s body;
- Sexual commentary, jokes, gestures, images, etc.;
- Non-consensual kissing, hugging, pinching, rubbing, patting, or touching;
- Explicit discussions about other workers’ sex lives or preferences; and
- Gossiping or spreading sexual rumors about someone.
These are just a few examples of workplace sexual harassment. If you’ve experienced a hostile work environment or are unsure if a person’s conduct rises to the level of harassment, contact the Phoenix sexual harassment attorneys at Shields Petitti & Zoldan to learn more about the laws and your options.
How Do I Report Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
If you are experiencing workplace sexual harassment, contact one of our lawyers for advice on how to handle your situation. Your reporting options include:
- Report your harasser. Report sexual harassment to a supervisor or member of your employer’s Human Resources Department, who may be able to take actions that will end the harassment. Reporting will also help your case if you need to file a complaint or lawsuit about the harassment.
- File a charge with the state. File a sexual harassment charge with the Civil Rights Division of the Arizona State Attorney General’s Office (ASAGO).
- File an EEOC charge. Access the EEOC’s Public Portal and submit an inquiry. You will be asked a few questions to help determine if the EEOC is the right federal agency to handle your complaint and, if applicable, file a sexual harassment charge with the EEOC.
Employees who fail to timely file with either the ASAGO or the EEOC will forever waive their right to pursue a lawsuit. Our attorneys will work with you to determine which reporting strategy is preferred based on the particular facts and timeline of your situation.
What Is the Workplace Sexual Harassment Statute of Limitations in Arizona?
In Arizona, victims have 300 days from when the sexual harassment occurred to file charges with the EEOC. You must file a claim with the Civil Rights Division of ASAGO within 180 days. For these reasons, securing legal representation early on is essential to give your attorney enough time to investigate your claim and file the necessary paperwork by the applicable deadline.
How Do I Calculate Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Compensation?
According to EEOC data, the average out-of-court settlement for workplace sexual harassment claims is between $16,000 and $67,488. But all sexual harassment claims are different. And numerous factors come into play when calculating a workplace sexual harassment settlement.
The amount of time an employee suffered harassment and the type of harassment, as well as factors like age, job type, education, experience, and pain and suffering, will affect the settlement amount.
In some cases, victims may recover compensatory damages plus attorney fees and costs. Compensatory damages pay victims for out-of-pocket expenses, such as costs associated with job searches or medical expenses, and damages for emotional harms, like mental anguish. In some cases, victims can also recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the employer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What If I Am Uncomfortable Reporting the Harassment?
Understandably, sexual harassment can create a tense and even hostile work environment. If you’re uncomfortable or don’t feel your report will be heard or taken seriously, the best thing to do is talk with an experienced attorney. A skilled attorney can help you document the harassment and act as a go-between so that you don’t have to communicate directly with your employer or the person who is harassing you.
Is Employer Retaliation Illegal?
It is against the law for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting sexual harassment. Many employers have policies requiring or encouraging sexual harassment victims to report harassing behavior. If you feel your employer has retaliated against you for reporting sexual harassment, an employment lawyer at Shields Petitti & Zoldan can walk you through your options.
What Are Examples of Retaliation?
Examples of retaliation include being suspended from work without pay pending an investigation, being transferred to an inconvenient worksite, or being forced to take a different work schedule to avoid your harasser. These all constitute retaliation and are illegal. There are several other forms of retaliation that an attorney at Shields Petitti & Zoldan will help you identify.
Am I Protected from Workplace Sexual Harassment If the Harasser Is Not My Supervisor?
EEOC laws protect you from being harassed by anyone in your workplace. You are protected whether the harasser is your manager, a manager in another area, a co-worker, or others in your workplace, such as clients or customers.
Must Harassment Occur at Work for It to be Illegal?
Federal law protects you from sexual harassment whether it occurs on or off the work site. For example, if your manager pressures you for dates while at a work-related convention, you may have a claim for sexual harassment.
What If I’m Being Sexually Harassed by Someone I Used to Date?
If you make it clear to the person you used to date and your company that you are no longer interested in a relationship, and the person continues to seek a relationship or makes sexual advances or comments to you, you may have a potential sexual harassment claim.
What Happens at Work After I Report Sexual Harassment?
The EEOC and Arizona state laws require your employer to conduct a prompt, complete, and fair investigation. If it finds wrongdoing, your employer must also do everything possible to end the harassment and appropriately discipline the harasser.
Contact Shields Petitti & Zoldan Today
If you were sexually harassed at work, our skilled attorneys can assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve. We understand that forcing sexual harassment victims to revisit a distressing event throughout their case can be traumatic. That’s why we dedicate ourselves to providing our clients with compassionate representation. We are committed to using every resource we have to help you get justice. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Our employment lawyers are also able to assist you with: