Sexual Harassment is Not a New Thing

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.

Guide to Handling Workplace Discrimination

Every week, I encounter new potential clients who have fallen victim to workplace discrimination.  Among other topics, unlawful conduct includes Age Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Injury Discrimination, National Origin Discrimination, Pregnancy Discrimination, Race Discrimination, Religious Discrimination, Retaliation, Sex Discrimination, and Sexual Harassment.  Sometimes, it is impossible for me to help.  Often, people wait too long to speak out or fail to preserve their claim.  Sitting back and letting others treat you unlawfully is not the right approach to take.  Below is my quick guide for dealing with employment discrimination in Missouri.

Step 1 – Review Company Policy

Look up your employee handbook that you probably haven’t thought about since getting hired or being handed the latest revision.  Often, these will have procedures to follow in the event of workplace misconduct.  If they do, follow them.

Step 2 – Report to your Employer

Let your direct supervisor and/or manager know what happened, and do so in writing if possible.  Give him/her the important facts.  Once you have put management on notice, they should investigate your claim.

Step 3 – Follow-up with HR

See if they investigated your complaint, and find out what they determined and what remedial measures are being taken.

Step 4 – Seek Legal Representation

If you have experienced the treatment, reported it pursuant to company policy, and nothing has been done to remedy the situation, you need to contact an employment law attorney.  You should also contact counsel if your employer has retaliated against you for making a claim.  Your lawyer will work with you to properly file your charge of discrimination with state and federal agencies.

TIP:  Please document your experience as well as possible.  This can make your case down the road.