Don’t let an employer or human resources representative make you believe you’re being overly sensitive for reporting unwanted attention in the workplace. Unwanted attention can constitute sexual harassment in the right – or wrong – circumstances. What may seem like teasing or just a joke to one person can create a hostile or threatening work environment to another person. If an employer, manager, coworker, or customer’s unwanted attention has impacted your work life, don’t delay – contact Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, for legal advice.
Unwanted Attention as Sexual Harassment
One instance of flirting or an offhand inappropriate comment based on your sex is likely not sexual harassment. For the law to deem an action or behavior “harassment,” it must have negatively impacted your career or created a work environment that you think is abusive. However, just one instance of unwanted attention could be sexual harassment if it was severe enough to cause damages. Men and women can be victims of unwanted attention in the workplace. Examples of unwanted attention that could potentially qualify as sexual harassment include:
- Obscene body movements, facial expressions, or gestures
- Inappropriate emails or other forms of communication
- Inappropriate photos sent to you or posted publicly
- Comments about your body or looks
- Offensive jokes about your sex, gender, or sexual orientation
- Suggestive notes or requests for sexual favors
- Sexual innuendos or threats
- Inappropriate or unwanted “compliments”
- Unwelcome touching, groping, or grabbing
- Whistles and catcalls
- Propositions for going on dates or performing sexual acts
The perpetrator doesn’t have to physically touch you for him or her to be guilty of harassment. If unwanted attention is persistent enough to make you feel uncomfortable or afraid to go into work, it’s most likely sexual harassment. For example, if a coworker constantly gives you lewd stares, this behavior could qualify as harassment if it creates an environment that’s impossible for you to work in. When in doubt, speak to an attorney. Our lawyers have over 60 years of combined experience in employment law and can help determine whether you’re a victim of workplace sexual harassment.
Why Work with an Attorney?
Unwanted attention is a serious problem that deserves legal attention. Even if you don’t take your case to trial, filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can be enough to hold the alleged harasser liable for his or her unlawful actions. You could set the stage for other employees to come forward with similar complaints, and for the EEOC to investigate sexual harassment at your job. You could also receive compensation for your damages.
Damages in a workplace sexual harassment case can be emotional, such as feelings of low self-worth or fear about going to work. They may also be financial, such as losing out on a promotion because you denied unwanted attention from your boss or supervisor. No matter what damages you suffered due to unwanted attention, talk to an attorney. You could be eligible to recover for your losses as well as receive additional punitive damages to punish the alleged harasser.
At Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, we want to hear from you about your unwanted attention experience in the California workplace. We understand federal and state employment laws and know how to help you protect your legal rights. You can speak with one of our attorneys for free in person or over the phone if you can’t make it into one of our offices. We’ve garnered over $150 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients and want to help you maximize your odds of recovery. Call (510) 433-1000 or reach out online to get started.