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Can Sexual Harassment Be Subtle and Still Unlawful?Client-Focused & Passionate Representation

Can Sexual Harassment Be Subtle and Still Unlawful?

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Sexual harassment occurs much too often in Florida workplaces and in workplaces throughout the country, and it can take many different forms. Indeed, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), between 2018 and 2021, there were more than 27,000 charges alleging sexual harassment in the workplace (as reported to the EEOC), and those charges accounted for more than 27 percent of all harassment charges received by the EEOC. And “these data do not tell the full story of sexual harassment in our nation’s workplaces,” the EEOC underscores. The cases that are actually reported are likely represent a vast undercounting of the incidents of sexual harassment that actually occur in workplaces.

There are many reasons that employees fail to report sexual harassment, including because they are not certain if particular language or behavior constitutes unlawful sexual harassment. Our Palm Beach Gardens sexual harassment lawyers want to be clear that sexual harassment can certainly be subtle and still completely unlawful. We can provide you with more information about the forms sexual harassment takes, and we can speak with you today about taking action if you have experienced sexual harassment in your workplace.

Understanding Different Types of Sexual Harassment 

Before we explain more about how sexual harassment can take quite subtle forms and still be — very clearly — unlawful, it is important to understand the different types of sexual harassment that can occur in the workplace.

In general, there are two types of workplace sexual harassment. First, there is quid pro quo sexual harassment, which occurs when an employer (or any supervisory figure) offers or requires sexual favors of an employee in exchange for workplace benefits or in order for the employee to avoid adverse consequences. Second, there is hostile work environment sexual harassment, where anyone in the workplace (an employer or supervisor, co-worker, or even a customer or client) engages in behavior or uses language of a sexual nature that creates a hostile work environment. Both types of sexual harassment are unlawful under federal and state law.

How Sexual Harassment Can Be Subtle 

In order for sexual harassment to occur and to be actionable, it need not be overt or necessarily obvious to anyone else in the workplace.

For example, quid pro quo harassment might occur — and be actionable — based on an offhand statement from a supervisor to an employee that vaguely threatens the employee with an undesirable work schedule if the employee does not agree to a date. The comment can even be made in a seemingly “joking” manner and be unlawful sexual harassment. Similarly, a hostile work environment may be created when, for example, a co-worker routinely grazes another employee’s lower back with his hand, making the employee constantly uncomfortable anytime that employee passes the co-worker, even if other people in the office are not impacted by it.

These are just two examples — there are many more. You should discuss any concerns with an attorney as soon as you can.

Contact a Palm Beach Gardens Sexual Harassment Lawyer 

No employee should ever have to be subject to quid pro quo sexual harassment in their workplace or be forced to conduct their work in a hostile work environment due to sexual harassment. If you want to know more about your rights and the possibility of filing a sexual harassment claim, it is important to seek advice from an experienced Palm Beach Gardens sexual harassment attorney at Sconzo Law Office as soon as possible. We are committed to representing employees who have faced unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace and helping to ensure that these cases are remedied and that employers take steps to prevent sexual harassment in the future.

Sources:

eeoc.gov/data/sexual-harassment-our-nations-workplaces

eeoc.gov/sexual-harassment

eg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0760/Sections/0760.10.html

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