Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It occurs when an employee or an applicant for employment is the victim of requests to perform sexual favors, unwanted sexual advances, and other verbal or physical sexual conduct.
The harasser can be an employer, supervisor, co-worker, or even a non-employee like a customer, client, or vendor. If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment, a knowledgeable Miami sexual harassment lawyer can advise you on the best course of action.
There are two major categories of sexual harassment cases in Florida: "quid pro quo" and "hostile work environment."
Quid pro quo is Latin for "this for that." This type of sexual harassment generally occurs between an employee and their superior. In these kinds of cases, submitting to the conduct is either explicitly or implicitly a condition of the victim's employment, or submitting to or rejecting the conduct is used to make employment decisions about the victim.
For example, if a supervisor implies that they will give a lower-ranked employee a raise, bonus, or promotion if they provide sexual favors, quid pro quo sexual harassment has occurred.
You can typically file a quid pro quo harassment claim based on a single incident. No repeated pattern of behavior is required.
Hostile work environment sexual harassment differs from quid pro quo matters in several ways. First, hostile work environment claims do not require the harasser to be a supervisor and can be based on inappropriate conduct from anyone in the workplace.
Hostile work environment claims center around behaviors that can poison a workplace, such as:
•Making inappropriate and unwelcome comments on the victim's appearance
•Telling sexual or offensive jokes or stories
•Creating or displaying sexual images
•Using sexually suggestive language or slurs
•Unwanted touching, rubbing, or groping
Additionally, unlike quid pro quo harassment, hostile work environment harassment requires an ongoing pattern of harassment. The behavior must be so pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with the victim's work performance. This means you generally cannot succeed in a hostile work environment claim based on a single incident.
You can file a sexual harassment claim with either the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You cannot file a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court unless you file a Title VII charge with the EEOC and receive a "Notice of Right to Sue." Similarly, before you can proceed with a sexual harassment claim in Florida, you will need to exhaust any potential remedies available through the FCHR.
There are strict time limits in place for filing your sexual harassment complaint. You must file with the FCHR within one year and with the EEOC within 300 days of the discrimination. However, you should file as soon as possible since you may have other potential legal claims with shorter deadlines.
When you are dealing with inappropriate behavior at work, it can be challenging to determine whether you've been subjected to sexual harassment and what you should do next. The first step is to meet with an experienced sexual harassment attorney to review your situation. A knowledgeable Florida lawyer can review your case and advise you on the next steps. To schedule a free consultation, call the law offices of Remer & Georges-Pierre, PLCC at (305) 416-5000 or schedule an appointment online.