Sexual Harassment and Retaliatory Discharge
The leading West Virginia sexual harassment attorneys of Heavens Law Firm are dedicated to defending the rights of victims of gender discrimination in the workplace. We have successfully handled all types of sexual harassment claims, obtaining successful results for our clients. Our firm provides the highest quality legal representation to employees throughout Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. It is based on outdated stereotypes of a woman or man’s “role” in the workplace. To segregate or confer disparate treatment on an individual based on his or her membership in a particular group is the essence of discrimination. When it comes to depriving individuals of equal opportunity and benefits in employment, employers are liable for violations of state and federal law. These antidiscrimination laws carry heavy penalties for employers that engage in sexual harassment. Sexual harassment refers to any form of unwelcome physical or verbal conduct that is made a condition of employment or that contributes to a hostile work environment. Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Inappropriate flirtation or sexual advances
- Lewd or offensive sexual jokes or comments
- Making sexual favors a condition of promotion
- Bullying employees based on their sexual orientation
- Supervisors participating in or tolerating offensive conduct
- Inappropriate comments about a woman’s dress or appearance
- Retaliation for reporting sexual harassment or other violations
- Withholding employment benefits based on refusal to engage in sexual conduct
The line between normal social relationships and unwelcome sexual conduct is often blurred in the workplace. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, co-worker, or even a third party, such as a vendor or client. Further, most cases are not so easily relegated to one type of “quid pro quo” or “hostile work environment” sexual harassment. Employees often experience a combination of having employment benefits conditioned upon sexual favors and tolerating an uncomfortable, sexually-charged atmosphere.
Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment
Hostile environment sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which unreasonably interfere with an individual’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. Sexual harassment can be from a member of the opposite sex or the same sex. Sexual harassment is prohibited under both the West Virginia Human Rights Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There are two main kinds of sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment generally involves conditioning employment, promotion, or other terms or conditions of employment on the receipt of sexual favors. Hostile environment sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which unreasonably interfere with an individual’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. Sexual harassment can be from a member of the opposite sex or the same sex.
Despite the widespread abuse occurring in workplaces across the United States, many complaints go unreported because employees fear losing their jobs. Most people are unaware that work cannot be conditioned upon participating in sexual conduct or that discriminatory conduct interfering with work performance may be the basis of a lawsuit.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act strictly prohibits all forms of gender discrimination, including sexual harassment. It defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. While isolated incidents or comments are not actionable, courts recognize a legal violation where there is a practice or pattern of abuse that creates a hostile or offensive work environment or results in adverse employment decisions.
Title VII strictly prohibits sexual harassment in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promoting, and awarding benefits. It also prohibits retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, for example, by firing or demoting the employee. State law likewise prohibits gender discrimination, protecting employees of smaller companies that may not be subject to federal antidiscrimination laws.
If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual harassment, the experienced Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyers of Heavens Law Firm can help. We are recognized leaders in employment discrimination law. If you have reported the abuse to management and are not satisfied with its response, we can help you file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Our firm aggressively pursues your claim by cutting through the red tape. Because the EEOC claims and appeals process is relatively complex, it is helpful to have an experienced attorney who can advocate for your best interests. At Heavens Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping you achieve the best outcome possible at trial or through settlement.