Sexual Harassment Attorney in Greenville, SC
Knowing Your Rights When it Comes to Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment in the workplace is an ongoing problem. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in Greenville County, knowing your rights will help you determine what you should do and who you can turn to for help. Lauren Taylor, a sexual harassment attorney in Greenville, SC, can help guide you through the necessary steps to see that justice is carried through to the end.
How Is Sexual Harassment Defined in the Workplace?
Sexual harassment in the workplace is defined as a form of sexual discrimination that breaches Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This includes any unwanted or unwelcome sexual advances, such as requesting a sexual favor in exchange for something on the job, or any other sexual act, verbal or physical, towards another person in the workplace.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits any form of discrimination in the workplace due to race, ethnicity, sex, color, or religion. And, it applies to all workplaces of 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments.
Sexual harassment does not have to be something of a sexual nature. Making offensive comments towards a particular gender is also a violation.
However, consensual encounters of a romantic or sexual nature are not considered to be a violation, even though it could be offensive to others. It must be unwanted advances or comments and must be more than an isolated incident to be considered hostile or a violation. Bantering and teasing in a provocative manner between two adults, or off-handed remark, is also not a violation.
It’s understandable if you have doubts on whether you have a legitimate case to file. That is when it’s best to speak with an experienced Greenville sexual harassment lawyer.
Common Types of Sexual Harassment in South Carolina
As an experienced sexual harassment attorney in Greenville, we see two main types of sexual harassment in the Greenville workplace and they are: (1) quid pro quo and (2) hostile work environment.
Quid pro quo is when a decision on someone’s employment, such as a hiring, firing, assignment, or promotion, is tied to a person’s compliance with a sexual favor or act. No decision in the workplace should ever be based on unwanted sexual advances.
A hostile work environment is when the sexual harassment creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment. A court looks at a few factors to determine if the workplace environment is hostile or not. This could be physical or verbal acts or both. The court will also take into consideration how often the offense is occurring, if the harasser is an employee or supervisor, if others were involved, both in harassing and being harassed.
Your sexual harassment attorney will help in determining what type of harassment you were involved in, before filing a complaint or going to court.
What Type of Behavior is Deemed Sexual Harassment in Greenville?
Every situation is judged on its own and considers the parties involved to determine if it’s sexual harassment. The types of behavior that is often deemed to be sexual harassment include:
- Direct, or indirect, bribes exchanged for sexual favors
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Sexual innuendos or comments
- Displayed materials of sexual nature
- Offensive jokes on sexual themes
Sexual harassment in Greenville, SC is protected for any gender, by any gender. It also protects if the harasser is the employer, an employee, or even a vendor who frequents the company, as long as the act is unwanted by the recipient.
Your sexual harassment attorney can help you judge whether a particular behavior and/or circumstance is considered sexual harassment.
Does an Isolated Incident Equate Sexual Harassment in Greenville, SC?
It could. An isolated incident could be sexual harassment through quid pro quo if the single unwanted sexual advance is linked to the job, such as hiring, firing, benefits, or promotion. One incident would be enough at that point to file a sexual harassment complaint in Greenville.
On the flip side, if the isolated incident is not considered severe, and not linked to a change in the job, it’s also not considered to be a hostile work environment either. A lone incident requires adequate proof that the incident occurred.
It would be best to speak with a sexual harassment attorney to know what type of case you are facing.
Can an Employer Retaliate Against You for Filing a Sexual Harassment Claim?
They could try, but it’s illegal to do so. Title VII protects the employee against retaliation by the employer, for filing a claim for sexual harassment. It also protects any witnesses who have chosen to speak up on your behalf.
In fact, it will protect anyone who decides to cooperate or get involved in the hearing, investigation, or trial. So, if you feel that you are being punished, or someone you know, talk to your sexual harassment attorney immediately.
What Are Greenville Laws on Sexual Harassment?
Title VII is a federal law, but some states have decided to adopt laws to embrace it, by protecting workers from sexual harassment.
South Carolina backs up Title VII with laws on hostile work environments. If you find yourself in a Greenville courtroom in a sexual harassment case, expect that the laws will work alongside Title VII. It’s not tolerated by the federal government, nor the state of South Carolina.
It states that if the sexual harassment is severe or frequent, it will be determined to be a hostile work environment when certain acts are involved, including the following:
- Unwanted Kissing
- Unwanted Inappropriate propositions
- Unwanted Fondling
It also includes unwanted offensive jokes, comments, questions, or innuendos of a sexual or gender nature. It does not matter if it’s employee or employer, and a non-compliant employer might be ordered to participate in the investigation or face civil liability.
In order to be considered a hostile work environment, the harassment needs to be long-term and pervasive. Just as with the federal laws, it doesn’t matter what the gender is of either the victim or the perpetrator, including same-sex cases.
For further information and advice on specific laws pertaining to a Greenville sexual harassment case, contact an experienced sexual harassment attorney.
What to Do if You Think You have a Sexual Harassment Case in Greenville
If you think you are a victim of sexual harassment, don’t put it off. If you have any doubt, contact a sexual harassment lawyer in Greenville. They will look at all your evidence and guide you to know what to do next. Even if you have only witnessed it, contact an attorney to see what you should do.
Every case and situation are different, but the following are universal steps you can expect:
- Look through the employee handbook (your company should have provided one), or find your company’s policies. If the enterprise you work for has a sexual harassment policy in place, take the necessary steps in following it.
- Put any complaint in writing, and make a copy. Verbal complaints are difficult to track and prove, as to whether the complaint has been seen.
- Take notes of anything you remember, regarding the sexual harassment. Be specific on all the details, and make sure to include when and where it happened, as well as a list of possible witnesses.
- Speaking with the harasser is an option, but before filing a complaint, and only if you feel safe in doing so. Let them know that what they are doing or saying is making you uncomfortable, with giving them specific examples of what they did or said.
- If speaking with them is not a reasonable option, or it doesn’t stop the behavior, talk with your supervisor. If your supervisor is the one harassing you, then speak to their supervisor. When speaking with them, let them know any steps, if any, that you have taken so far.
If the above steps do not result in a cease of the unacceptable behavior, the next step would be to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Again, if your rights have been violated, then don’t put off taking these steps, and doing so in a timely manner. If your supervisor seems to be stalling, remember that you only have 180 days from the incident occurring to file a complaint. They could be stalling on purpose if they know that there is a deadline and are trying to avoid an investigation.
Having an attorney to file the complaint is not necessary, but recommended. At the very least, talk to an experienced sexual harassment attorney somewhere along this path so that they can give you professional and sound advice.
What to Expect After a Sexual Harassment Complaint is Filed
After you have filed a sexual harassment claim with the EEOC, they should be letting your employer know that you have filed a complaint against them, and will begin an investigation into your complaint. Next, they will most likely offer you some options, such as:
- To reach an agreement or settlement, they could possibly send you to a mediator to reach one
- If a settlement cannot be reached, a lawsuit could be filed in federal court
- The charge could be dismissed
The EEOC will notify you if a settlement is not reached, or if the case gets dismissed. This notice should advise you of the right to go to court, which is referred to as a ‘right to sue’ letter.
Steps to Take If You Are Experiencing Sexual Harassment in a Greenville Workplace
If you are not even sure if you have been a victim of sexual harassment by legal standards, you probably wouldn’t have any idea if you should pursue a complaint. Or, maybe you want to diminish the chances of it happening to you in the first place, or to anyone else. There are a few measures you can do to lessen the odds. These include:
- Start a journal or log, describing any act of discrimination that you are a part of or witness at your place of business
- Become familiar with the company’s employee handbook, or any policies they have in place regarding sexual harassment
- If the company has an EEOC officer, make sure to keep their contact information
- Fulfill your job duties to the best of your abilities, keep track of all your accomplishments, evaluations, memos, emails, letters, and all other communications regarding your job performance
- If you believe that you have already been sexually harassed in the workplace, communicate the details to your family and friends, so you have a support system to help you
- Keep an eye on the dates, because you only have 180 days to file a complaint from the time of the incident
Furthermore, if you believe you have been a victim of sexual harassment in Greenville, contact a Greenville lawyer that handles sexual harassment victims’ cases. Lauren Taylor is an experienced sexual harassment attorney in Greenville that will fight for your rights.