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Sexual harassment falls under the umbrella of explicitly or implicitly implied conduct that affects an individual’s work life. Implicit means that harassment is suggested, but never stated outright. An example of this subtle behavior could be a boss inviting an employee out for a drink after work to talk about moving up the ranks. Let’s say this employee declines the invite, and then a promotion is given to another employee. This is by definition implicit or subtle sexual harassment. Explicit sexual harassment is blunt and stated loud and clear. An example would be a boss telling an employee that they will be fired for failure to provide a sexual favor.
This brings up what other types of behavior constitute sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is anything that affects an employee’s work life or creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment. Sexual harassment may include sexual jokes, unwelcome questions about your sexual past or fantasies, comments about another person’a body or clothing, starting rumors about a person’s sex life, following a person, standing too closely to a person, brushing against a person or massaging their body parts, hugging or patting a person, touching another person’s clothing or yanking at it, making sexual gestures, giving gifts that have a hint of sex to them, sexual drawings or letters, starting at someone up an down for lengthy periods of time, and exposing oneself.
Different from sexual harassment, sexual battery (also known as “sexual assault”) is any unwanted physical touching that is sexual in nature. Depending on the circumstances of the sexual assault, the employer may be held accountable for the perpetrator’s actions.
Employees that are victims of sexual harassment and/or assault at work are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil Florida laws. Title VII pertains to workplaces that have 15 or more staff members and extends to local and state governments. This also applies to Florida and federal employment agencies and to labor organizations. Depending on the facts and circumstances, section 110.1221 of Florida Statutes may also apply, as well as other Florida Statutes. Employers can be held responsible for the negative actions of their employees.
As we discussed above, sexual harassment can take on many different forms. Both sexual harassment and sexual assault can create tension in the workplace and may inhibit an employee from succeeding professionally. Different from sexual harassment, sexual assault goes beyond unwelcome or unwanted sexual suggestions. Sexual assault may include nonconsensual kissing, grabbing, touching, groping, bumping, grinding and stroking your breast, butt, or genitals, undressing you or undressing in front of you, and pressuring or forcing you to engage in any sexual act (rape).
Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment. Your sexual orientation has nothing to do with whether you are a victim. With that said, women can be sexually harassed by both men and women and men can be sexually harassed by both women and men.
Sexual Harassment can also occur in a school or college setting, which could include St. Leo University, Pasco-Hernando State College, Webster College and Rasmussen College.
Qui tam makes it unlawful for a Florida employer to retaliate against an employee from bringing a sexual harassment or sexual assault claim. If an employee notifies the employer that they have a claim of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that employer cannot do anything to retaliate against the employee for reporting, or for being a victim. These claims are known as “whistleblower” actions, also known as Qui Tam actions, allow victimized employees to recover if they suffer retaliation for filing a claim under Title VII.
If you think you have been the victim of sexual harassment or even sexual assault at work, our Pasco County Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are proudly able to assist with your claim. We can walk you through the claims process and help you understand what legal steps are required and what you can expect from your case. We are here to listen to your concerns and provide a remedy for the harassment or assault that you are experiencing or have already endured. Call us today at 727-847-2299 or contact us online for a completely free consultation to learn more about how we can help.