WHAT IS A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT?
First of all, sexual harassment is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as: “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature…when…submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions…or such conduct has the purpose or effect of…creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.”
Sexual harassment consists of two types of prohibited conduct:
1) quid pro quo—where submission to harassment is used as the basis for employment decisions; and
2) hostile environment—where harassment creates an offensive working environment.
What is hostile work environment harassment?
- The American Bar Association (ABA) defines hostile work environment harassment as: “when an employee is subjected to comments of a sexual nature, offensive sexual materials, or unwelcome physical contact as a regular part of the work environment. Generally speaking, a single isolated incident will not be considered hostile work environment harassment unless it is extremely outrageous and egregious conduct. The courts look to see whether the conduct is both serious and frequent.”
Supervisors, managers, co-workers and even customers can be responsible for creating a hostile environment.
When will my employer be held liable for hostile work environment harassment?
- The employer is liable when supervisors, managers or other employees create the hostile work environment. This is true unless the employer can prove they were informed of the conduct and took reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior. The employer must also prove the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of the preventative or corrective action provided by the employer.
- Examples of reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior: moving employees to different departments so they no longer come in contact with one another, switching employees to different shifts so they no longer work together, terminating the harasser, etc.
What should I do if I am being sexually harassed at work?
- Notify your supervisor, manager or a Human Resources representative immediately. It is very important that you report and document the behavior because an employer cannot be expected to fix a problem it is not aware of.
- If your supervisor or manager is the harasser, tell a Human Resources representative, a manager or supervisor from a different department or the harasser’s superior.
- Victims should try to keep a detailed record of the harassment and keep this record in a place where it will not be destroyed. Keeping this information on a computer at home or somewhere else away from the workplace is a good idea.
- Victims of sexual harassment should always contact an attorney if exhausting the options above do not resolve the situation.
Most attorneys who handle sexual harassment cases for employees also offer a free consultation to evaluate the merits of a case.
Rachel was absolutely amazing. As an attorney she really took the time to really listen to my concerns. She was honest and kept me informed every step of the way. The outcome was favorable on my behalf and I appreciate her efforts to achieve a good outcome. I would highly recommend her and the Friedmann firm to represent me if ever needed in future.
Working with Rachel Sabo from Friedmann Firm was absolutely amazing! She upholds integrity, honesty and without a doubt fights for what is right! Rachel was extremely transparent and real! Please don’t let wrong be right, Rachel will strive to advocate and put her whole heart in obtaining resolve in your situation! What an absolute blessing, she won my case in less than 1 week💪
My experience with the Friedmann Firm is an absolute 5 stars. From my very first call with Karen, to all of my communication with Rachel, everything exceeded all of my expectations. Rachel and Karen were so caring and understanding in a very sensitive situation. They responded immediately to any questions or concerns I had. I would HIGHLY recommend the Friedmann Firm. They are caring, professional, understanding, and I would trust them with any issue I have in the future.
Rachel and the Friedmann Firm were fantastic to work with. The thought of needing an employment lawyer was scary for me, it was confusing and complex. But Rachel listened, asked questions and took time to really understand me and my priorities. I felt calm, supported and excited for the first time in weeks after talking to her!! We worked together to review everything, set expectations and meet my priorities! Thanks Rachel and team for all your work!!!
Rachel Friedmann of the Friedman Firm was my attorney for a very recent legal matter. I would highly recommend Rachel based on her legal knowledge, her honest appraisal of the matter and expected outcomes, her open communication and timely responses to my questions and the matter itself, and her steadfastness in dealing with the opposing counsel until a final agreement was reached.
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Couldn’t be happier with the representation I received from Jamie Bailey on my civil litigation case. She worked tirelessly to resolve the case and in the end negotiated a fair settlement on my behalf. I would highly recommend her to anyone! Thanks for everything Friedman law firm.
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The Friedmann Firm (specifically Pete Friedmann) represented me through what seemed like a never ending employment discrimination suit. The suit was filed just before Covid shut everything down in 2020. Add to that a former employer who refused to admit fault. In spite of all of that, Pete stood resolute in his representation of me and working for the best outcome for me. We ended up settling prior to trial and I was more than satisfied with the results. Pete was always available to answer questions and reassure me throughout this process. I highly recommend The Friedmann Firm!
Pete Friedmann and his firm are fantastic. He represented me for more than a year going through a suit with a previous employer. He walked me through every step of the process and was always quick to respond to any questions I had. My settlement came in and we parted ways with both sides being pleased with the outcome. I highly recommend the Friedmann firm and wouldn’t hesitate to use them again in the future if the need arose. Thank you, Pete!
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I loved working with The Friedmann Firm. Rachel and Jamie are exceptional lawyers and were diligent in reviewing my case and letting me know of my options. Jamie was extremely thorough and handled even the smallest details of my case with ease. The entire process was seamless and they were always quick to respond to emails and calls. I would definitely recommend working with The Friedmann Firm.
I would recommend Rachel Sabo Friedmann and the Friedmann firm for severance negotiations. Rachel was always available and responsive and made an effort to ensure I was updated on every step of the process. Her diligent efforts produced a prompt resolution and we are very happy with the results!