McNamee Hosea News & Press


Which Actions Could Be Grounds For A Sexual Harassment Claim?

Employers can go to great lengths to create policies that protect workers, but this may not insulate them from being named in lawsuit if these policies are not properly enforced. Developing a handbook that outlines what is and is not appropriate behavior in the workplace is just one step in avoiding employee disputes.

This can be particularly true when it comes to complaints of sexual harassment. A handbook may state that certain behaviors are not acceptable, but an employer must also follow up on complaints and take appropriate action if an employee violates these rules. This post should remind employers of some of the situations that may be grounds for a sexual harassment claim and therefore require immediate action to address the situation.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as unwanted sexual advances, touching or comments that makes a worker uncomfortable or intimidated in the workplace and interferes with his or her ability to work. But harassment is not always as easy to identify as physical touching or blatantly inappropriate comments. 

For example, a person could feel sexually harassed if he or she:

  • Is the victim of inappropriate pranks or jokes
  • Receives inappropriate gifts from a co-worker or supervisor
  • Repeatedly receives unwanted and sexually suggestive attention
  • Is subjected to inappropriate or offensive images or materials in the workplace

These and other situations can prompt an employee to file a claim of sexual harassment. Whether employers agree with the claim or not, it is their duty to take the claim seriously, investigate and take appropriate disciplinary measures to put a stop to any harassment.

Failure to follow through on a complaint can be a costly mistake that employers can make, either intentionally or unintentionally. If you are faced with a situation involving sexual harassment claims in the workplace, speaking with an attorney to better understand your rights can be the best way to avoid litigation and protect the reputation of your company.