The term sexual harassment often garners a strong response, but it is often misunderstood. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other federal and state legislation, it is unlawful for employees to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender. Sexual harassment is one type of sex-based discrimination millions of men and women face every year. Sadly, many victims stay silent about harassment simply because they do not understand their rights.
There are a number of common misconceptions that exist regarding sexual harassment including:
Myth 1: Only Women Can Be Victims of Sexual Harassment
Although women experience sexual harassment on a more frequent basis, men can also be sexually harassed. In fact, about one out of every five sexual harassment complaints reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are filed by men. Men may suffer sexual harassment from both female and male harassers. Many men are hesitant about reporting the harassment because they fear they will not be believed, or they do not realize that the law protects both genders from this unacceptable mistreatment.
Myth 2: Sexual Harassment Always Involves Physical Touch
There are two types of sexual harassment according to the law: quid pro quo and hostile work environment harassment. The former involves a superior’s attempts to trade work-related benefits for sexual favors from a subordinate employee. The latter involves severe or persistent sex or gender-related remarks, jokes, or actions that are demeaning or inappropriate for work. An employee should never discount the severity of sexual harassment because the harassment has not escalated to touching—which could be considered criminal sexual assault.
Myth 3: It is Best to Just Ignore Harassment Until It Stops
Unfortunately, sexual harassment often worsens over time. An employee who gets away with making disparaging remarks or behavior may be emboldened when he or she is not called out for this inappropriate behavior. If you have experienced sexual harassment, never simply assume that the problem will go away on its own. Communicate via e-mail to a supervisor or human resources representative if you experience unwanted inappropriate behavior at work that makes you feel uncomfortable. If actions are not taken to address the issue and prevent further instances of harassment, you may have a valid sexual harassment claim.
Contact a DuPage County Sexual Harassment Lawyer
If you have been sexually harassed at work, contact Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC for help. Schedule a confidential consultation with a skilled Illinois sexual harassment attorney by calling our office at 630-665-7300 today.