McNamee Hosea News & Press


Not All Claims of Sexual Harassment Legally Actionable

There are employers across Maryland who take workplace behaviors very seriously. They do whatever they can to provide a safe and fair work environment for every employee. However, even these employers can end up facing allegations of serious violations including sexual harassment. But it is important to remember that not every claim is legally actionable.

People do not always understand what exactly sexual harassment is or if they can in fact take legal action against an employer. Whenever the issue comes up, employees and employers can be confused about what rights are in place to protect both the alleged victims and the alleged perpetrators.

Proving that a person has been the victim of sexual harassment can be very difficult to do. In some situations, someone really has stepped out of line and engaged in behaviors that are against the law. This could include offering promotions or job perks in exchange for sexual favors or subjecting a worker to a hostile work environment.

However, in many situations, the supposed misconduct is not that egregious. It might be an offensive joke or unwelcome statement. Someone may feel mistreated because of a mean boss or inappropriate co-workers. There could be bad blood between a supervisor and employee who had a consensual relationship at one point and no longer get along in the workplace. However, these are not necessarily actionable claims of harassment.
In any sexual harassment case, it is up to the plaintiff to prove that an employer engaged in or permitted harassing behavior. This can be difficult to do and relatively few of the claims that are filed are actually actionable.

But if a claim is successful, the employer could be facing serious penalties. Not only are there financial damages that can be awarded to the alleged victim, but the employer's reputation and the success of a business could also be on the line. This is why defending against claims of harassment can be crucial. Whether an alleged victim's assertions are justified, employers may be wise to speak with an attorney to protect themselves and their business.

Source: CNN, "What makes sex harassment cases tough to win," Danny Cevallos