Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault in the Workplace
If you’ve encountered sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace, you’re not alone. Sexual harassment and sexual assault can take many forms, but they boil down to violating a person’s right to be safe, comfortable at work, and free of unwanted sexual contact or advances.
Sexual harassment, including sexual assault, is a form of sex discrimination and is a civil rights violation. It can range from verbal comments to physical touching or assault. While many people believe it is perpetrated by male bosses against female subordinates, sexual harassment can occur between all combinations of gender — male on female, male on male, female on male or female on female — and it can happen in many work or work-related environments and between co-workers in all types of relationships. Minnesota state and federal laws protect employees against sexual harassment and related wrongful termination or retaliation. It’s important to understand the definition of sexual harassment including; what rights you have, and when you should contact a sexual harassment lawyer.
WHAT DOES SEXUAL HARASSMENT LOOK LIKE?
Sexual harassment can take many forms. We have advised and represented many employees struggling with harassment matters includes:
- Unwanted sexual advances or touching
- Offensive joking, comments, emails or other unwelcome communication
- Work retaliation or harassment based on the termination of a sexual relationship
- Offers of promotion or favorable treatment for sex (quid pro quo harassment)
- Discounting or ignoring reports of misconduct to management
- Retaliation or wrongful termination for making a report or voicing a concern of sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Many people who experience harassment may feel angry or disgusted, but they may also feel alone, afraid, and anxious about the harassment situation. Regardless of what you’re dealing with, we will listen to you, and we can fight for your rights if they have been violated. Contact us and talk to an attorney for no cost.
WHAT CONSTITUTES SEXUAL ASSAULT?
Sexual assault can take many forms. At its simplest, any non-consensual sexual act may constitute sexual assault. Every state has its own definition of assault and rape. In Minnesota “criminal sexual conduct” ranges from removing clothing with sexual intent, to touching or groping, even over clothing, to non-consensual penetration.
Sexual assault is a traumatic experience that has a tremendous emotional and physical toll on victims. We have advised and represented many employees who have been the victims of workplace sexual assault. Some reported what happened immediately; some did not. We understand that the trauma of sexual assault affects each individual differently and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to react to a work-related sexual assault. We also know that getting support can make a significant difference in how a person gets through the trauma.
You do not have to suffer in silence, and you have the right to protect yourself and your job while holding your aggressor accountable. Halunen Law employment attorneys are skilled and experienced in understanding what you are facing and can be your advocate in challenging workplace-related sexual crimes.
WHAT ABOUT OUT-OF-OFFICE CONDUCT?
Sexual assault can occur in your actual workplace, but employees are also vulnerable during work-related events. In fact, an employee may be at a higher risk when with coworkers and managers outside the main work environment. This includes settings such as
- Business trips
- During travel
- Employer sponsored events
The lack of monitoring, potentially casual environment, types of activities (e.g. drinking), and easier access to victims combine to make these common times for sexual assaults to occur. While technically not “in the workplace,” sexual assault in these contexts still may fall under the auspices of workplace and employment law, and we encourage you to seek the support and advocacy of an employment lawyer if this has happened to you.
IS IT ILLEGAL FOR AN EMPLOYER TO RETALIATE AGAINST ME IF I REPORT SEXUAL HARASSMENT OR ASSAULT?
Yes. Many employees who experience sexual harassment or assault in the workplace also find themselves a target for retaliation and wrongful termination. Clearly, all you want to do is stop the conduct and be allowed to do your work without fear. This typically necessitates reporting what happened. Regrettably, it is not uncommon in these situations, particularly if the perpetrator of the harassment or assault is in a high level position, to experience retaliation for making a report and even termination. However, retaliation or termination under these circumstances likely puts the employer in direct violation of state and federal laws that protect against not only sexual misconduct, but wrongful termination. Whistleblower protections may also be available.
If you are in a position to report sexual harassment or assault in a work-related context, getting the advice of an experienced employment law attorney can help you navigate the process with the best chance of avoiding negative consequences.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND ASSAULT?
The first step you can take against sexual advances of any type is to firmly tell the harasser to stop. If the conduct continues, contact a sexual harassment and assault attorney, who can help you determine how to move forward in the situation in order to produce the best possible outcome. With the help of a sexual harassment lawyer in Minneapolis, you can determine the specific scope and impact of the harassment, as well as take legal action against any negative effects that you have experienced as a result, including retaliation and wrongful termination.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED WORK-RELATED SEXUAL HARASSMENT OR ASSAULT? Contact Halunen Law.
Halunen Law employment attorneys are experienced in dealing with work-related sexual harassment and assault as well as other difficult employment matters. Our sexual harassment attorneys can provide the advocacy you need to protect yourself and preserve your right to work in a safe environment. Federal and state laws exist to protect employees and guard against wrongful termination. During a free, confidential consultation, we can help you figure out if you have grounds to pursue legal action against an employer, or whether to deal with the problem in a different way. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with a Minnesota employment law attorney to determine your rights as you consider pursuing legal actions against your aggressor and employer. Call 612-605-4098 to schedule your consultation.