Sexual harassment has rightfully become an extremely hot topic in the news lately, even though it has always been a serious problem in society, especially in the workplace. That being said, no amount of news coverage or number of empathetic individuals coming forward can make victims of sexual harassment feel less violated. Acts of sexual harassment are inexcusable. This is by far one of the most difficult topics I deal with as an attorney who defends employee rights in the workplace. While no legal recourse can ever undo the violation that somebody has experienced, it can help put an end to it and punish the perpetrator.
Under Missouri law, sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination covered by the Missouri Human Rights Act. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
- Submission to such conduct is made a term or condition of an individual’s employment;
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis of employment decisions affecting such individual;
- Such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. This is where the sexual conduct is so pervasive or severe that it creates an abusive working environment.
Under Federal law, acts of sexual harassment are unlawful pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The substance of the law itself is similar to that which is codified by Missouri statute.
Additionally, employers often get in trouble for retaliation in this context. For example, somebody who is the victim of sexual harassment should report the conduct to HR, management, or whoever else the proper party might be identified as in the company procedures as soon as possible. The employer cannot thereafter retaliate against the reporting individual by exhibiting any kind of adverse treatment, ranging from unfairly assigning work to outright termination of employment. Retaliation is unlawful on its face.
At Schaeffer Law, we have the knowledge and experience to counsel you on sexual harassment and represent you zealously. Those who come forward are always treated with honesty and respect. And, always remember that any conversation you have with an attorney at Schaeffer Law is protected and confidential.
For more information on sexual harassment, check out our page dedicated to the topic.