Springfield, Massachusetts Sexual Harassment Attorney
Representing the Rights of Workers Who Have Been the Victims of Workplace Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment at work is a serious matter and can take a variety of forms, including unwanted advances, gestures, stories, being passed over for a promotion, or unwelcome physical contact. In many cases, victims of sexual harassment at the workplace are entitled to significant compensation and other remedies. For this reason, if you believe that you have been sexually harassed at work, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. To have a Springfield, Massachusetts sexual harassment lawyer review your case, please fill out and submit our online questionnaire.
Sexual harassment is a type of sexual discrimination that is prohibited by both state and federal law. Unfortunately, it is commonplace in many American workplaces. If you have been subjected to either harassment or discrimination, we can help you ensure that the parties who are responsible are held accountable and that you receive the remedies to which you are entitled under the law. We maintain an office in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, and regularly work with clients throughout the area, including in West Springfield, Holyoke, Wilbraham, East Longmeadow, Chicopee, and Westfield.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
While most people are aware of the concept of sexual harassment and likely know it when they see it, whether harassment has occurred is actually a complicated matter that often requires significant legal analysis to determine. Fundamentally, it is against the law to harass a person because of her or his sex. Harassment can include conduct that is of a sexual nature or is motivated by a person’s sex. For example, both unwanted sexual advances and making offensive jokes about women can be considered sexual harassment.
Importantly, mere teasing, isolated incidents, or offhand comments generally are not prohibited by law. To be considered harassment, conduct must result in an adverse employment decision or must be so severe or frequent that it creates an offensive or hostile work environment. Due to the fact that sexual harassment can be difficult to recognize, it is a good idea to speak to an attorney about any conduct or employment action that you think may be questionable or motivated by your gender. Some examples of the kinds of workplace conduct that may rise to the level of sexual harassment include the following:
- Sexual jokes
- Unwelcome physical conduct
- Requests for sexual favors
- Unwanted advances
- Remarks regarding a person’s body
- Requests for private meetings
- Sexual gestures
- Displaying sexually suggestive objects
- Emails containing sexual images
- Comments that are sexual in nature
- Speculations regarding sexual activity
- Statements about sexual activity
- Sexist comments
- Sexual assault
- Sexual slurs
- A pattern of subtle sexual advances
- Direct sexual propositions
- Sexually explicit questions
Discrimination, Harassment, and Adverse Employment Actions
Harassment is only one type of sexually-based discrimination that can entitle victims to file a lawsuit. Sexually-motivated discrimination that results in adverse employment action is also prohibited by state and federal law. In addition, if an employer subjects an employee to adverse employment action because of a rejection of sexual advances, it will also likely be considered harassment by a court. In other words, adverse employment action that is either motivated by an employee’s sex or for sexual reasons will likely be legally actionable.
Some examples of employer actions that would likely fall into the definition of “adverse employment action” in a sexual discrimination case include the following:
- Being passed over for a promotion
- Assignment to less desirable job duties
- Reduction in pay
- Denial of time off
- Warning letters that could result in or affect future discipline
- Adverse hiring decisions
Have You Been Sexually Harassed at Work?
If you suspect that you have been sexually harassed at work, it is critical to understand that the actions you take can have an impact on your right to recover compensation or obtain other relief. As a result, it is important to take steps to protect your rights. Some of the steps that are advisable to take if you think you have been the victim of workplace harassment or discrimination include the following:
Keep detailed notes about the harassment. Things of which to make note of include the day and time an incident occurred, whether anyone else saw the incident, and the details about the offensive conduct itself. If the harassment takes the form of an email, voicemail, picture, or anything else tangible that you can keep, do not delete it or throw it away, even if it makes you uncomfortable. This type of evidence can be critical in a sexual harassment case.
Be sure to report the issue to your supervisor or your company’s human resources department. In many cases, harassment does not become legally actionable unless an employer is made aware of the harassment and does not take adequate steps to rectify the situation. For this reason, it is always important to start by reporting the situation to the appropriate office or party within your company. Remember, retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is also illegal, so if you are subjected to an adverse employment action after making a complaint, it can only strengthen your case.
Call a lawyer as soon as you can. Sexual harassment claims can be quite complicated, and there are often many steps that need to occur before you can file a lawsuit—including making a claim with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. For this reason, the most effective thing you can do to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that your case is properly brought is to retain an attorney familiar with federal and state discrimination laws.
Call a Massachusetts Sexual Harassment Lawyer Today
If you believe that you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. At Hayber Law, we are committed to protecting the rights of workers and will do everything we can to ensure your case is brought to a successful resolution. You can have an experienced Springfield employment attorney review your case by filling out our online questionnaire or by calling our office today at 413-417-7035.