A Reminder About What Constitutes Sexual Harassment

Dec 1 2017

With the stunning news that Matt Lauer was fired from NBC’s Today morning television program earlier this week amid allegations of sexual misconduct brought forward by his former colleagues, it is a good time to remember what constitutes sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

“It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include ‘sexual harassment’ or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”

As stated above, most acts of sexual harassment are illegal. In Connecticut, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) forbids sexual harassment of employees. The Act applies to businesses with three or more employees.

Every day, we seem to have bombshell news stories breaking about which celebrities and politicians are facing sexual harassment or misconduct claims. The employment attorneys at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C. wanted to give you a quick reminder about what sexual harassment looks like and what you can do.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is not as noticeable as you may think. Sometimes, harassment can actually be quite subtle or not very obvious. Some examples of sexual harassment that can be illegal under federal and Connecticut law include:

  • Sexually explicit comments about a co-worker
  • Staring in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner
  • Sharing inappropriate images or videos with co-workers
  • Making sexual or vulgar gestures
  • Telling lewd jokes
  • Asking about a co-worker’s sexual history or sexual orientation
  • Making offensive comments about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity

Speak Up

Sexual harassment can be difficult to talk about. Sometimes, it’s easier to lock it away in your mind instead of coming to the realization you were harassed. The situation is more difficult when the harasser is your boss or employer. But, if the behavior is ever going to end, you need to say or do something.

If you’re a victim or if you’ve witnessed workplace harassment, you need to speak up. Go to a supervisor, and if that’s not an option, go to your human resources department. Some people think they will be punished if they are a “tattletale”. That’s not the case. Reporting your co-worker’s or employer’s wrongful behavior to the right people will save others from becoming future victims. Besides, it’s illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting workplace harassment.

Contact Us If You’ve Been Harassed

If you are being sexually harassed at work in Connecticut or have witnessed sexual harassment, you should contact the sexual harassment lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C., for an evaluation of your situation. Don’t forget to speak up. Your voice matters!

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