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Why sexual harassment is so difficult to prove

Here at Kaylor, Kaylor & Leto, P.A., in Florida, we represent many workers who have suffered some form of workplace discrimination. For many, their on-the-job problem has been sexual harassment. We know, therefore, how especially distraught and offended you feel when your boss or one of your co-workers harasses you this way.

Unfortunately, however, sexual harassment represents a form of workplace discrimination that is often difficult for you to prove. You must show the court by clear and convincing evidence that the words and actions the person used against you rose above the level of being simply irritating. They must have caused you actual damage.

Types of sexual harassment

CNN recently reported that although both federal and state law prohibit gender-based employee discrimination, sexual harassment takes two forms: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. The former, Latin for “this for that,” involves a situation in which someone at work, usually someone who ranks higher than you do, basically asks you to provide him or her with sexual favors in exchange for him or her promoting you or otherwise enhancing your employment condition. Conversely, the person could threaten you with a demotion or other negative employment consequence should you fail to comply with his or her unwanted sexual advances.

Hostile work environment represents a more generalized form of sexual harassment. Here the person comes on to you or otherwise talks and acts inappropriately toward you with no promise, implied or actual, that (s)he can influence your employment position. Bear in mind, however, that the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that discrimination laws were never intended to act as a “general civility code for the American workplace.”

He said, she said

As you might imagine, the main reason why any kind of a sexual harassment claim can be so difficult to prove is that it so often comes down to the classic “he said, she said” battle of conflicting versions of what actually happened. Therefore, if someone starts sexually harassing you at work, your best course of action is to keep an ongoing written record of the following:

  • Who harassed you
  • The date(s) on which (s)he did so
  • Exactly what (s)he said or did
  • Who else may have observed the harassment
  • How it made you feel and how it negatively impacted your productivity

In addition, you should report the sexual harassment to the appropriate person at your job who can best do something about it, be that your supervisor, your boss, a human resources employee, etc.

For further information, please visit this page of our website. 

 

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