Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is generally defined as a pervasive or serious environment of unwanted conduct or comments because of sex or gender, serious enough to change the conditions of employment, for which the employer is liable because they have had complaints or because a supervisor or manager knows or is involved in the conduct. [It may equally apply to racial harassment or age harassment or disability harassment]. Minor or insignificant jokes or comments will generally not be actionable.

Witnesses are important, but not always available in these cases. If you have witnesses, try to get them to just document the date and time and basic facts and provide you a signed copy of their notes. The conduct does not have to be “sexual” but can be hostile or can be in retaliation for refusing advances or opposing sexual [or racial] joking in the workplace or outside the workplace. Company outings with alcohol often lead to claims of sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a person with some kind of power, tries to obtain sexual favors or a relationship with direct or implied assurances of benefits they can provide from their position in the workplace.

Financial and psychological harm from harassment can be devastating. If you or a friend or coworker are considering leaving your employment because of harassment, see an lawyer and/or a counselor before you leave your job. Depending on your health condition you may be able to obtain a health related leave of absence if necessary, to protect and recover while you notify the employer of the harassment to try to get it remedied to preserve your job.

Retaliation by employers and perpetrators is common after complaints of harassment and you should have legal counsel available and/or contact public agencies to have protection if you experience retaliation.

Laws allow recovery of economic losses and jury awards for emotional suffering.

Abuse

Tragically our children are vulnerable to abuse by trusted adults in schools, in athletics, in neighborhoods and in churches and other activities.

Often the fear or shame of such betrayals of trust, cause the victim to keep the abuse secret for years or even decades. Sometimes the conduct results in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that will impact many areas of a person’s personal and public life. It can interfere with normal relationships and even employment.

There is good law and good professional help to reduce the harms of such abuse and to obtain compensation for the losses that cannot be “fixed”. There are also protections in the law that allow victims to sue based on their “discovery” of the harm from abuse years later.

It is important to get counseling as soon as you possibly can after such incidents and if you are interested and able to consider legal action, see an attorney as soon as you are aware of damage from such abuse.