Sexual Harassment Termination

The Pursley Law Firm handles Sexual Harassment Termination cases in Texas including Dallas, Austin, Houston and nationwide. If you have been a victim of employmer retaliation, relating to sexual harassment at your place of employment, you should speak with a Sexual Harassment Termination Lawyer in Texas to determine whether you have a case.

"Sexual harassment" is a term that, in less than two decades, has not only permeated the national consciousness, but has become part of the every day vernacular. Defining sexual harassment, however, is not easy. Beyond the obvious cases of sexual violation, humiliation, and violence in the workplace, there is no consensus as to what is and is not sexual harassment. In defining sexual harassment, subjective issues like intent, perception, "welcomeness," and credibility are critical. These inquiries create numerous opportunities for ambiguity, misunderstanding, and frustration. They also lead to litigation. Legal issues concerning an employer's "good faith investigation" and "appropriate remedial action" also frequently arise in sexual harassment cases.

Enforcement of a sexual harassment policy in the workplace requires the investigation, evaluation, and possible censuring of conduct that may be socially acceptable in other contexts. Making appropriate decisions concerning sexual harassment allegations in the workplace demands the ability to consider context, degree, and the nuances of the relationship. The line between the friendly and the predatory, or between the flirtatious and the genuinely offensive, is often difficult to determine. Even when speech or conduct is obnoxious, when does being a jerk become a workplace crime?

For all its ubiquity today, the idea that sexual harassment is a matter for the legal system is relatively new. The EEOC first issued guidelines on sexual harassment in 1980. The Supreme Court first addressed the issue in 1986. Many commentators observe that the proliferation of sexual harassment litigation increased sharply with the publicity surrounding the charges raised by Anita Hill against then Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas during his Senate confirmation hearings. Later, the case brought by Paula Jones against President Clinton also received extraordinary media attention and further raised awareness of sexual harassment litigation.

Currently, sexual harassment is defined as either "quid pro quo sexual harassment" or "hostile work environment sexual harassment."

The range of harassment claimed in recent cases spans a spectrum of type and degree that includes:

  • Gender Harassment - Openly hostile work environment directed at an individual because of his or her gender, including same gender harassment.
  • Seductive Behavior - Unwanted, inappropriate, and offensive physical or verbal sexual advances with inadequate remedial action.
  • Sexual Bribery - Solicitation of sexual activity or other sex-linked behavior by promise of reward or threat of punishment (classic quid pro quo harassment).
  • Sexual Coercion - Coercion of sexual activity or other sex-linked behavior by threat of punishment (a form of quid pro quo harassment).
  • Sexual Assault - Physical assault or rape, including gross sexual imposition.

According to the precedent set in the leading sexual harassment cases, "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment," when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

There are several different scenarios that sexual harassment can happen in, several of the factors include: The harasser and victim can be either sex and the victim may or may not be the opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim's superior in terms of management or supervisory position, some other representative of the employer, a supervisor or employee in another department of the company, a non-employee (e.g., a contractor or vendor, etc.), or a co-worker. A victim of sexual harassment isn't always the person harassed but could be anyone negatively affected by the offensive conduct. Discharge of or economic injury to the victim does not have to be the result for the conduct to be considered sexual harassment. Also, the victim should make it clear that under no circumstance is the harasser's conduct welcome. It is best if the victim informs the harasser directly at least once that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available through the management or human resources of the company.

When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, the EEOC looks at the whole record of facts: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegations is made from these facts on each individual case.

Prevention is basically the only tool available to eradicate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers can be found liable if they did not take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring or have a reporting and investigating policy in place. It is imperative that they should plainly communicate to their employees that there is no tolerance for sexual harassment. Employers should do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees upon the start of the employment and recurring on an annual or bi-annual basis based on their length of employment. A simple, effective, and confidential complaint or grievance process needs to be in place and well known to the employees with the employer willing to take immediate and appropriate action when a complaint is filed.

It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on sex or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Fiscal Year 2005, the EEOC received 12,679 charges of sexual harassment. 14.3% of those charges were filed by males. EEOC resolved 12,859 sexual harassment charges in FY 2004 and recovered $47.9 million in monetary benefits for charging parties and other aggrieved individuals (not including monetary benefits obtained through litigation).

Sexual harassment is an issue that is not likely to go away any time soon. The increased emphasis on sexual harassment liability issues has had both positive and negative effects on male-female work relationships. The prospect of freedom from harassment no doubt enhances the ability of women to excel in the workplace and break through glass ceiling barriers to advancement. On the other hand, the fear of sexual harassment claims may be counterproductive to that advancement. The great media attention to high profile sexual harassment cases may make it easy to forget that men and women in the workplace are not inherent enemies. It is also worth remembering that the chemistry that exists between men and women has the capacity to enhance work relations at least as often as sexual harassment threatens them.

Do I Have A Sexual Harassment Discharge Case in Texas?

Wrongful Termination Information Center

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Houston, Texas 77027
Tel: (713) 893-0022

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