Despite laws prohibiting it, sexual harassment regularly occurs in Minneapolis workplaces, as well as throughout Minnesota. Often times, this type of behavior goes unreported and unaddressed. This can be for any number of reasons, including workers’ fear that they will be retaliated against, or lose their jobs, if they report sexual harassment. Other employees may not realize that the behavior was inappropriate, and illegal. By understanding what qualifies as sexual harassment, in addition to their rights, people can avoid facing these types of situations in the workplace.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, any physical or verbal conduct that is of a sexual nature can be classified as sexual harassment. This can include requests for sexual favors and unwanted touching or physical advancements. Behavior of a sexual nature may be considered harassment when it impacts a worker’s employment, including interfering with people’s work performance or creating an offensive, hostile or intimidating environment in the workplace.
There are a number of misconceptions regarding sexual harassment. Often, people believe that this type of conduct must be between people of the opposite sex. However, both the harasser and the victim can be either male or female. Additionally, sexual harassment does not always involve a worker’s superior. The harasser can be a co-worker, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer or a non-employee. In some cases, the victim may be someone who is affected by the conduct, as opposed to the person who is actually being harassed. Furthermore, sexual harassment does not have to cause victims economic injury, or the loss of their jobs.
In addition to making workplace sexual harassment illegal, federal law also provides workers with rights for stopping such behavior. The law allows for workers to file charges with government agencies in cases when the issue is not resolved internally. Federal law also protects workers from suffering retaliation, including further harassment or termination of their employment, as a result of filing a sexual harassment grievance or charge.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can make people feel uncomfortable or offended. Often, this type of behavior also turns a job that people love into one that they dread. Workers who have been the victims of sexual harassment may find it of benefit to seek legal counsel and representation. An attorney may explain their rights, as well as their options for taking legal action.