Knowing ways to make a strong legal sexual harassment case is essential for victims seeking justice. While the law surrounding sexual harassment claims is well settled, actually proving sexual harassment can be a daunting task. When building a sexual harassment case, a foundational understanding of the laws and documentation of the harassment is key. 

This post will examine the principal areas of law involved in a sexual harassment claim and discuss how you can begin building your sexual harassment case. However, if you are thinking about filing a sexual harassment case, you should reach out to an attorney who can assist you in doing so. At O'Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC, our experienced sexual harassment attorneys can help you build a strong claim to get the justice you deserve. 

What Is Sexual Harassment? 

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has defined sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” However, sexual harassment does not only entail harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment also includes harassment because of your gender identity or sex. While some see sexual harassment as being exclusively a problem that females fall victim to, anyone on the gender spectrum can be a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Although we understand isolated incidents and teasing are inappropriate behavior, to have a strong legal claim for harassment, the perpetrator's behavior must be sufficiently severe in the eyes of the law. For instance, harassment becomes illegal when the workplace environment becomes hostile for the victim. To name a few, some examples of illegal harassment include: 

  • Physical acts of sexual assault;
  • Unwanted physical contact;
  • Feeling pressured to engage in sexual behavior;
  • Requests for sexual favors;
  • Unwanted online harassment such as explicit emails, photos, or texts; 
  • Repeated verbal remarks of a sexual nature; and
  • Unwelcome sexual advances. 

More types of sexual harassment are not listed here. If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment, you should reach out to a sexual harassment attorney to see if you have an actionable claim. 

Legal Foundations of a Sexual Harassment Claim

At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. Specifically, the statute reads that it is “an unlawful employment practice for an employer . . . to discriminate against any individual concerning. . . compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” 

While local laws on sexual harassment vary from state to state, there are generally five elements of an actionable sexual harassment claim: 

  • The employee belongs to a protected group;
  • The employee was subject to unwelcomed sexual harassment;
  • The harassment was based on sex; and
  • The harassment affected a “term, condition, or privilege” of employment. 

In addition to these four elements, if you are suing your employer for harassment conducted by a co-worker or supervisor, then you must also prove that the employer was aware (or should have been aware) of the harassment and allowed it to continue. 

While some of these elements may seem straightforward, each one has complex legal nuances that an experienced sexual harassment attorney can best explain. 

Building Your Sexual Harassment Case 

As mentioned previously, building a strong sexual harassment case can be challenging. Substantial evidence is needed to prove each of the above elements of a sexual harassment cause of action. This is why documentation and investigation will be crucial in building your case. 

Document Your Claim

When preparing to bring a sexual harassment lawsuit, you should attempt to document every incident of harassment thoroughly. In a journal, attempt to describe the “five W’s”—the “who, what, where, when, and why”—in sexual harassment. In addition, try to document these things as they happen so that the information is fresh in your mind and as accurate as possible. Even if the case does not go to trial, documentation of each incident of harassment will bolster your claim. 

Investigate Company Policy 

Knowing your company’s policies around sexual harassment will be beneficial in building evidence of sexual harassment. When looking into your company’s policies, see if the company has implemented any protections for employees who have been victims of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Further, look to see if there have been any past incidents with the perpetrator and see if the company actively participated in shielding them from liability. Evidence of past incidents will help you bring a stronger claim. 

Talk to Potential Witnesses 

When building your sexual harassment claim, it will be helpful to have witnesses who can testify to the harassment. Ask the people who may have witnessed any incidents of harassment to corroborate your story. Further, it would be beneficial to know if they would be willing to testify to the harassment in court. An attorney can assist you in building a list of witnesses and interviewing them. 

Hiring an Attorney 

One of the most important aspects of building a strong legal sexual harassment case is hiring an attorney. An attorney can evaluate your case to see if you have an actionable claim. If you can prove the elements of your claim, you are entitled to seek compensation. This compensation may include damages for pain and suffering, harm to your reputation, and out-of-pocket costs related to the harassment. 

How Can O'Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC Help? 

At O'Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC, we have skilled sexual harassment attorneys who understand that sexual harassment can be traumatizing, both physically and mentally. Our attorneys fight for every client to help them get the compensation they deserve. 

We know that talking about harassment can be difficult. Know that our team will take the best care to make you feel comfortable and safe.

Contact Us

If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, please reach out to us online or call us for a free consultation at 908-373-5938.

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