(Last Updated On: July 31 2023)
If you’re experiencing inappropriate or derogatory treatment at work because of your sexual orientation or history—whether it’s how you identify or how others perceive you—it’s not just deeply distressing and disruptive; it’s also against the law. This behavior is considered sexual harassment, and both Massachusetts and federal law protect you from it. Specifically, the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 make it clear that such treatment is illegal and should not be tolerated.
Understanding Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is not limited to explicit sexual behavior. Any disparaging comments about an entire gender, or prejudiced behavior based on your sex, also qualify. This illegal practice can happen regardless of your sexual orientations, gender identity, and position within a company.
Two primary forms of sexual harassment exist: quid pro quo and the creation of a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo refers to a scenario where sexual conduct becomes a bargaining tool for career benefits or to avoid professional penalties, such as offering you raises, promotions, or other perks in exchange for sexual contact or threatening to fire you when you don’t comply with requests for sexual contact. On the other hand, a hostile work environment might consist of inappropriate sexual advances, invasive questioning, and exposure to offensive sexual imagery or behavior. Examples of this type of sexual harassment include flirting, making comments about your looks or fashion choices, using sex-or gender-based slurs in the office, or touching you in an inappropriate, sexually charged manner.
Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains a pervasive issue, despite numerous high-profile cases and social media movements like #MeToo aimed at raising awareness. The EEOC received 11,090 allegations of sexual harassment across the United States in the 2022 fiscal year. Of these, 16.3% were filed by males. In Massachusetts, 15 allegations were reported to the EEOC.
Securing Safety & Justice
As difficult as it can be to take a step back in the moment, your first response to any form of sexual harassment should be to document the instances meticulously. Ensuring that you have detailed, dated records of inappropriate interactions and copies of harassing messages or emails gives you crucial evidence when filing a claim.
In the aftermath of harassment, you may suffer from worsened mental and physical health, increased medical bills, lost wages or even career setbacks. These damages can be included in your harassment claim to ensure you receive the necessary restitution.
You can file a sexual harassment claim with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, before proceeding with these steps, it’s essential to follow your company’s sexual harassment reporting policy, if one exists. Be sure to document your compliance with this policy.
Turning to Legal Support
With Rodman Employee Law by your side, you can confidently navigate the process of filing a sexual harassment claim. Our team of dedicated attorneys is ready to help secure your safety and justice. Call us today and begin your journey toward a more respectful workplace.
Note: The advice given in this article is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult a qualified attorney to discuss your specific situation.