If you believe you may have been the victim of sexual harassment, ask yourself these questions:
- Did someone at your workplace make a comment that was sexual in nature?
- Was your job, a promotion or workplace privilege jeopardized because of your reaction to an explicit or implied proposition?
- Are you subjected to crude sexual jokes or pictures at work?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may have a case for sexual harassment.
Connecticut employees have a right to go to work and be free from sexual advances. Connecticut workers have a right to be judged on their work abilities, and not on their willingness to submit to sexual favors. If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment, you can seek compensation for your damages
Connecticut Sexual Harassment Lawyer
At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, our Connecticut sexual harassment lawyers represent the victims of sexual harassment at the workplace. If you’ve been subjected to sexual harassment, you are entitled to an end to the harassment and perhaps to monetary damages. If you’ve lost your job or a promotion due to sexual harassment, you may be eligible for reinstatement, promotion or back pay. Contact us today by filling out our online form.
We represent clients throughout Connecticut, including in Milford, Bridgeport, Greenwich, Middletown, Cromwell, Waterbury, Fairfield and Stamford. We have offices in New Haven and Hartford.
Sexual Harassment Under Connecticut Law
Under Connecticut General Statutes Section 46a-60(8), sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or any sexual conduct, including explicit comments and crude jokes, when submitting to such conduct either explicitly or implicitly is a term or condition of employment or that an employment decision will be based on the reaction to the comment, or if the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with work performance or creating a hostile work environment.
This is a broad definition. It could include clear “quid pro quo” situation, such as if a supervisor says an employee can have a promotion if she will have sex with him. It also includes situations when sex is implied or suggested.
For instance, Adrienne works as a waitress at a restaurant in Bristol. She hears there is an open position for an assistant manager, and goes to her manager’s office to speak to him about it. He says he doesn’t have time during the day to talk about it, but she should come to his home after closing, at about 10 p.m., and they can talk about it then. When she gets there, he comes on to her and tries to kiss her. Women simply should not have to tolerate behavior like this in the workplace.
Sexual harassment is not limited to words. If you are subjected to crude, derogatory or pornographic photos, drawings, cartoons, posters or videos at work, you may have a workplace harassment claim.
Though the most common situation in sexual harassment is for men to harass women, the law makes no such requirement. Illegal sexual harassment can include Women harassing men, men harassing men, and woman harassing women. In each case, the victim is protected by law.
Hostile Work Environment in Connecticut
If there is no threat of negative employment action, like denial of a promotion or termination, sexual comments can still be sexual harassment if they create a hostile work environment for the employee. A hostile work environment can mean the employee reasonably feels uncomfortable due to sexual remarks such that it interferes with his or her work.
For instance, Diana works at a mortgage officer in a large bank in Norwalk. A male colleague, Fred, remarks frequently on Diana’s appearance. The remarks are all positive: that her hair looks good, that a certain color compliments her eyes, that a particular outfit is lovely.
In Fred’s mind, he is doing this because he believes women enjoy being complimented on their appearance. However, Diana is a professional who is at work to do her job, and Fred’s comments make her feel objectified, and that she is valued for her appearance rather than her contributions to the company. Fred is contributing to creating a hostile work environment for Diana.
The employer may be liable if they allow the hostile workplace to continue. If Diana reports Fred’s behavior to the bank manager, and the manager says she should “chill out” and that Fred means no harm, the employer could be liable.
The law requires employers to have clear policies against sexual harassment and clear procedures to report it. Employers who do not have these procedures can be liable for any harm caused by harassment. Employees who do not use these procedures can be barred from making claims. Crude “Jokes” as Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment does not require an explicit attraction between the harasser and the victim. If sexual remarks or mock advances are made, it can be sexual harassment, regardless of whether the harasser was actually attempting to make sexual advances on the victim.
For example, John works at a refinery in Milford with Andrew. Neither John nor Andrew are gay. However, Andrew believes it is funny to make sexual remarks to John. He makes frequent references to John’s body and makes jokes to other coworkers that imply John and Andrew have had sex. Andrew may be doing this as a joke and may have no sexual interest in John. However, his comments still constitute sexual harassment.
Recent Developments in Sexual Harassment Law
Connecticut Passes Bill Protecting Unpaid Interns from Sexual Harassment
In 2015, the Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation prohibiting sexual harassment toward unpaid interns. The law defines an intern as someone hired who is not committed to work after the training period, who is not being paid and whose work:
- Supplements the education of the intern;
- Provides work experience;
- Does not displace any current employee of the company;
- Is supervised by the employer or an employee; and
- Does not provide an immediate advantage to the employer.
In addition to sexual harassment, the law protects unpaid interns against any other type of discrimination, as well.
Connecticut Court Rules That Short Period of Sexual Harassment Still Actionable
In Gonzalez v. Lecoq Cuisine Corp., a Connecticut Superior Court ruled that just because harassment took place over a short period of time, it did not mean the plaintiff could not respond with a lawsuit. The plaintiff, who worked in sales, said her former CEO told her she would be more successful if she had sex with her male clients. The comments were both inappropriately sexual and threatened her livelihood, the court ruled.
Connecticut Resources on Sexual Harassment
Permanent Commission on the Status of Women: This state agency, founded by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1973, is dedicated to eliminating gender discrimination against women, including sexual harassment. The agency assists with complaints to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and helps draft policy.18-20 Trinity Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund: This nonprofit organization is one of the oldest women’s rights organizations in the country. It advocates for policy that fights sexual discrimination in the workplace.500 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Phone: (860) 522-8888
Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore | Hartford Attorney for Unwanted Advances
If you are subjected to sexual advances, illicit remarks, crude jokes or pornographic images, you don’t have to take it. At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, our Hartford sexual harassment lawyers represent the victims of sexual harassment. Contact us today by filling out our online form.