Retail Workers and Store Employees Are at High Risk of Sexual Harassment
Retail stores account for a massive portion of the U.S. economy. Approximately two-thirds of the U.S. gross domestic product comes from retail sales. Retail employees are a crucial component of our modern lives, however, working conditions in the retail industry are often unsatisfactory and sometimes intolerable. Sexual harassment is prevalent throughout the retail industry. Sadly, some retail workers tolerate demeaning conduct at work because they are financially dependent on the job and do not know their legal options.
Sexual Harassment in the Retail Industry
Just over 13 percent of sexual harassment claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) between 2005 and 2010 involved retail workers. Grocery stores, clothing stores, shops, appliance stores, gas stations, and other retail stores are rife with sexual harassment. Sometimes, sexual harassment takes place in the form of co-worker misconduct. A hostile workplace is created when offensive, sexually explicit, or demeaning statements or behavior become so frequent or severe that they prevent workers from completing job duties. Hostile work environment sexual harassment may involve:
- Displaying pornographic pictures or videos at work
- Making comments about another worker’s body
- Joking about sexually explicit topics
- Rude comments or offensive generalizations about a gender
- Slurs and hateful language
- Unwanted sexual contact
- Constantly asking a co-worker out on dates
Sexual harassment in retail stores may also involve superiors trying to exploit positions of authority to gain sexual favors. For example, a manager may imply or outright state that a worker will gain a favorable work schedule if he or she consents to romantic or sexual conduct. This is called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. Both hostile work environment sexual harassment and quid pro quo harassment are prohibited by federal and state laws.
It is also against the law for an employer to retaliate against a worker for reporting sexual harassment. For example, if a worker reports that his or her manager tried to exchange sexual contact for workplace benefits and the employer fires the worker as a result, the worker may have a retaliation claim.
What to Do If You Were Sexually Harassed at a Retail Store
Sexual harassment is illegal and unacceptable. If you were harassed at work or retaliated against for reporting harassment, file a report according to your employer’s sexual harassment policy. If your employer does not rectify the situation and prevent further harassment, you may need to file a claim with the EEOC or the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). In some cases, legal action in the form of a sexual harassment lawsuit is needed. Through a sexual harassment lawsuit, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages and other damages you suffered due to sexual harassment and/or retaliation.
Contact a Wheaton Sexual Harassment Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered from sexual harassment or retaliation, contact the knowledgeable DuPage County sexual harassment attorneys at MKFM Law for help. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation.