What should I do if I am being sexually harassed at work?
Hundreds of former employees have filed claims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination against Sterling Jewelers, the owner of Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Kay Jewelers. Female employees claim the work environment in these mega jewelry stores encouraged sexual misconduct, such as groping and sexual favors in exchange for promotions. The class action lawsuit was first filed in 2008, but the case remains unresolved. More employees have stepped forward since the lawsuit’s initial filing to report shocking instances of sexual harassment. At least one employee claims she was fired after attempting to report inappropriate behavior occurring in the workplace.
What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Sexual harassment can encompass numerous behaviors, including unwanted sexual gestures, pressure for sexual favors, sexual innuendos, unwanted touching, and more. It is not always easy to identify instances of sexual harassment due to its varied nature. Sexual harassment claims can generally be broken down into quid pro quo claims, in which victims are offered a job, promotion, or other advances if they submit to sexual behaviors desired by the harasser. The second type of claim is hostile work environment, in which employees are subjected to pervasive conduct that impacts their ability to perform their job.
Take Action if You Are a Victim of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment occurs at alarming rates in workplaces across New York and the rest of the nation. If you suspect you are a victim of sexual harassment, it is critical that you take action to protect your legal rights. Some important steps to follow include:
- Document the harassing behavior: You will want to document any quid pro quo harassment or evidence of a hostile work environment. Write down all sexual comments, differences in treatment due to your gender, inappropriate sexual jokes, and the like.
- Gather your evidence: If your harasser is emailing, texting, writing notes, or making other written contact, keep copies of all communications.
- Report the harassment: Follow your company’s sexual harassment policy and report the harassment through the proper channels.
- File a complaint with the EEOC: If you have reported the harassment and your employer fails to take action, you will want to file a complaint with the EEOC. You will be legally protected from retaliation.
- Find an attorney: Your next step should be consulting with an experienced sexual discrimination attorney to protect your legal rights.