Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited at all levels of the federal government. If you have been the subject of unwelcome advances or inappropriate verbal or physical conduct at work, you may be entitled to financial compensation and other remedies. Our attorneys represent federal employees in sexual harassment cases nationwide. We have handled thousands of federal employment cases; and, if your rights have been violated, we can help make sure you are protected against future harassment and retaliation.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is considered a form of unlawful sexual discrimination. While there are specific and narrowly-prescribed requirements for asserting your rights under the Title VII, the law’s protections are broad. Prohibited forms of sexual harassment in federal workplaces include:
- Harassment by same-sex or opposite-sex supervisors
- Harassment by same-sex or opposite-sex co-workers, other federal employees, and even non-government employees
- Harassment involving offensive jokes, exposure to offensive images, sexual advances, and other non-physical interaction
- Harassment involving inappropriate touching and other unwanted forms of physical contact
- Harassment related to advancement and other employment-related opportunities
While “simple teasing, offhand comments, [and] isolated incidents that are not very serious,” may not constitute unlawful sexual harassment, it is important that you speak with an attorney before deciding whether to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Nearly all forms of verbal and physical sexual contact have the potential to be serious, and no one should be forced to deal with these forms of unwanted, uncomfortable, and potentially harmful interaction on the job.
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Title VII Sexual Harassment FAQs
Q: What is “quid pro quo” sexual harassment?
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a supervisor, manager, or other senior employee offers an employment-related opportunity in exchange the employee’s consent to some form of sexual activity. This could involve an outright request, but more often involves the hint or suggestion of an opportunity (such as a raise or promotion) conditioned upon sexual engagement. Offering or awarding any employment-related opportunity as “quid pro quo” for submission to verbal or physical sexual conduct is strictly prohibited under Title VII.
Q: What constitutes a “hostile work environment”?
A hostile work environment exists when verbal or physical sexual conduct either (i) unreasonably interferes with an employee’s job performance, or (ii) results in feelings of intimidation or discomfort in the workplace. The factors that the EEOC and federal courts consider when evaluating whether a government employee has been subjected to a hostile work environment include:
- The nature of the sexual conduct (verbal or physical)
- The frequency of the sexual conduct
- Whether the sexual conduct would be considered hostile or patently offensive
- The number of employees taking part in the harassment
- The alleged harasser or harassers’ employment relationship with the claimant
- Whether the harassment has been directed at one or multiple employees
Q: What should I do if I have experienced sexual harassment at work?
If you are a federal employee and you believe that you have been sexually harassed at work, you should report the incident to your supervisor; or, if you are not comfortable going to your supervisor (i.e. because he or she was involved in the harassment), to your human resources representative or other appropriate senior employee. You should also speak with an attorney promptly, as there are strict time limits for filing Title VII claims with the EEOC. If you are not sure how to report your sexual harassment, our attorneys can tell you what to do.
Q: Can my supervisor retaliate against me if I file a sexual harassment complaint with the EEOC?
No. Retaliation against federal employees who report sexual harassment is strictly prohibited. If you face adverse employment action after filing a sexual harassment claim, or if you are threatened with adverse action if you choose to file, this is another violation of your rights under Title VII.
Speak with a Federal Employment Attorney at Melville Johnson, P.C.
For more information about your rights under Title VII, we encourage you to schedule a confidential consultation. With offices in Atlanta, we represent federal employees nationwide. To speak with an attorney about your situation, you can call us 24/7 at (888) 594-0424 or submit our online consultation form and we will be in contact as soon as possible.