Sexual harassment constitutes unwanted advances by an employer, co-worker, an agent of the employer, or even a non-employee, toward a person of either gender in the workplace. Sexual harassment can also be experienced by those who are not the direct targets of the harassment, but have been negatively impacted by the behavior of the aggressor. Although economic/salary concerns can be part of a sexual harassment case, they do not have to be involved for a case to go forward. However, sexual harassment must be unwanted. If the conduct of the aggressor in the case was welcomed and encouraged, the behavior of the aggressor is not considered to be harassment. Consensual affairs between co-workers, or between bosses and employees, for example, are not considered sexual harassment. A labor and employment attorney would be able to help if a complaint has been filed.
When a person feels they are being sexually harassed, they should file a complaint with the employer or with the employer's human resources department. As stated under federal law, sexual harassment is forbidden in the workplace. The person being harassed is encouraged to take specific notes on the incidences and specific verbiage used in association with the harassment. This documentation is very helpful if the victim needs to take legal action against his or her harasser.
Because sexual harassment can sometimes be a subjective experience, lawsuits in this area are most successful when the victim and attorney are able to demonstrate a clear pattern of harassment, even after having taken steps to prevent the harassment or alert the appropriate authorities of its existence. Employers have an incentive and a responsibility in this area to attempt to prevent harassment from occurring. Lawsuits will penalize both the aggressor and the employer at large for having failed to prevent the harassment, especially if the victim filed complaints in accordance with the employer's harassment policy.