Dedicated Silver Spring Sexual Harassment Attorney Ready To Assist You
Approximately 80,000 people live and work in Silver Spring, MD. And why not? It boasts many natural recreational spots like Acorn Park and Rock Creek Park, it is host to many events like the Silver Spring Arts & Crafts Fall Fair and the Silver Spring Jazz Festival, and it is just a stone’s throw away from Washington, D.C. But while our area has much to offer, there are still those struggling with workplace harassment. If this sounds like you, it would be wise to speak with a Silver Spring sexual harassment lawyer who is ready and able to help.
What Exactly Constitutes Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Harassment is a term that can be tricky to entirely understand. It is partly subjective since some acts can be considered offensive by some that are not offensive to others. However, in a legal sense, we need a line in the sand, so we draw it narrowly. In other words, a verbal “slur” about women might be offensive to some and not to others – but it doesn’t matter. This is a clear violation of sexual harassment laws and can be the basis of a cause of action. So let’s look at what else can constitute sexual harassment.
- Unwelcome sexual advances by anyone – This can be from members of the opposite sex or the same sex as the complainant.
- Receiving requests for sexual favors.
- Offensive remarks about a person’s sex – Derogatory comments about women, in general, can be considered harassment even though it doesn’t target an individual person.
- Any verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature and is unwelcome by the complainant.
It is wise to keep in mind that sexual harassment laws are not intended to prohibit mild teasing or offhand comments that are isolated incidents. Behavior rises to the level of sexual harassment when it is repetitive enough to create a working environment that is hostile and intimidating for the victim of the harassment. Conduct that results in an individual being passed up for a promotion, being demoted, or even terminated is also the foundation for harassment allegations and should be taken very seriously.
Sexual Harassment Is Analyzed on a Case by Case Basis
As stated earlier, this is an area where everything is not black and white. In fact, there are so many shades of gray that each case must be assessed on an individual basis before a proper determination can be made as to whether any act constitutes sexual harassment or not. All of the circumstances must be analyzed. Here are some factors that must be taken into consideration.
Welcome – or Unwelcome?
Was the conduct welcome or unwelcome? As we’ve said, conduct must be unwelcome in order to qualify as sexual harassment. In other words, a workplace romance would not constitute sexual harassment. Such a relationship may be “frowned upon” or even prohibited based on an individual company’s policies, but consensual sexual conduct between adults who happen to work together does not violate any sexual harassment laws.
To Speak Up or Not to Speak Up?
But does the alleged victim have to verbalize their lack of consent? The answer to this may surprise some people, because the answer is, “no.” The reason for this is because there are plenty of circumstances at a job where an employee may feel like they are not free to speak their mind out loud. This could be for fear that they would insult their boss or supervisor, or that they could become the object of ridicule simply by standing up for themselves at a time when others thought it was inappropriate. The circumstances can vary widely, but in the end, there are many people who don’t speak out because they are afraid of being ostracized or even fired.
Must There Be Financial Loss?
In a word – no. Harassment can exist even if it is not to the detriment of the complainant’s financial situation. In other words, you don’t have to be demoted or fired to have a cause of action in a sexual harassment case. The very act of being discriminated against is against the law. Harm is implied even in the absence of actual financial damages. Whereas in other areas of law (like personal injury), damages are required in order to file suit, such is never the case with sexual harassment.
Who Is the Victim?
The person who is actually harassed may not be the only victim. In fact, anyone who is adversely affected by the offensive conduct may have a cause of action.
Does the Harasser Need to Be Your Boss?
Once again, the answer is, “no.” A person can be sexually harassed by the owner of a company, a supervisor, a co-worker, or even a client or customer.
Silver Spring Sexual Harassment Attorney Ready to Put Our Expertise to Work for You
These are just a sampling of circumstances that can result in an uncomfortable, intimidating environment for an employee. So if you believe that you have been the victim of sexual harassment, the best thing you can do for yourself is to talk with a sexual harassment lawyer at the Smithey Law Group LLC. With our attorney’s decades of experience, we can assess all the facts of your case and let you know what the next steps need to be.
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