How Do I Know If I Have A Sexual Harassment Claim Against My Employer?

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There are federal and state laws in place that protect employees against workplace sexual harassment, including the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 (FCRA). Workers deserve an environment free from sexual harassment. If you were a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be able to hold your employer legally liable.

This raises an important question: What do you need to prove when bringing a sexual harassment claim against an employer? The short answer is that an employee must prove harassment was “severe” or “pervasive.” Here, you will find an overview of the most important things that employees should understand about workplace sexual harassment claims in Florida.

Defining Workplace Harassment: Severe or Pervasive and Based on Protected Characteristics 

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines that term harassment in a relatively broad manner. The term means “conduct that is unwanted and unwelcome.” Of course, not all harassment is sexual harassment. Further, not all harassment is necessarily legally actionable. Conduct could technically be unwanted and unwelcome without giving rise to legal claim. In order to hold an employer in Florida legally liable for sexual harassment through an employment law claim, a worker generally need to prove the following two things:

  1. Harassment Was Based On a Protected Characteristic (Sex/Gender): Employee rights laws protect workers against harassment on the basis of a legally protected characteristic. To bring a sexual harassment claim, you must prove that you were harassed because of your sex/gender. Sex-based harassment is legally actionable.
  2. Harassment Was Severe or Pervasive: To constitute sexual harassment under the law, the unwanted and unwelcome conduct must be either so severe or so pervasive that it would cause a reasonable person to feel so uncomfortable in the situation that it would negatively affect their ability to do their job. One very bad incident of sexual harassment could be grounds for a lawsuit (severe). Alternatively, many different minor comments could also be grounds for a lawsuit when taken together (pervasive). 

Employers May Be Liable for Sexual Harassment Committed By Co-Workers or Customers 

There is a common misconception that an employer is only legally liable for sexual harassment committed by a business owner, executive, or other management-level employee. This is simply not the case. Under federal law and Florida state law, employers have a proactive responsibility to prevent and remediate sexual harassment. An employer in Florida could potentially be held liable for workplace sexual harassment committed by any party, potentially including a non-management level co-worker, an employee of another business, and even a customer/client. Ultimately, the key issue will be what the employer did (and did not) to prevent and address the matter. 

Get Help From a Workplace Sexual Harassment Attorney in Florida 

Sexual harassment in the workplace is never acceptable. As an employee, you deserve to be safe and secure in your workplace. If you have any questions or concerns about filing a sexual harassment claim against an employer, contact an experienced Florida employment law for immediate help.

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