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Fact & Fiction On Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment continues to be one of the most pervasive forms of workplace discrimination, even in this day and age. It is considered a specific type of workplace discrimination under both federal and state law, and if you suspect that you are a victim of this kind of mistreatment, you may be able to file a charge with the appropriate agency so that you can seek compensation. However, it is crucial to understand what is fact and what is fiction in regards to sexual harassment—too much misinformation is passed around regarding what exactly constitutes harassment.

Myth: Unless it is overt and explicit, it does not count as harassment.

Fact: Sexual harassment can take many forms, some very subtle. Here are just a few forms of sexual harrassment:

  • A pattern of comments or jokes
  • Sexually explicit propositions
  • Promotions being contingent on sexual favors
  • Promotions being contingent on promises to refrain from sexual acts with any other person

The major factor in determining when harassment has occurred is whether the targeted person feels as though they cannot do their job because of it.

Myth: For it to be harassment, there has to be a quid pro quo.

Fact: While “quid pro quo” is one type of sexual harassment recognized by most courts, it is not the only type. The other broad category for sexual harassment claims is referred to as “hostile work environment,” meaning that the alleged harassing behavior gets so pervasive that the harassed person can no longer do their job.

Myth: Harassment must be between a male and a female.

Fact: Both South Carolina law and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) state that gender is irrelevant when harassment has allegedly happened.

Myth: Sexual harassment must be a pattern of behavior; one isolated incident is not enough to file a claim.

Fact: While most of the time, this is true—one or two incidents of teasing or comments are usually not enough to merit a sexual harassment claim—there are rare incidents where the “one isolated incident” is either severe enough to qualify, or directly and explicitly linked to the targeted person’s job advancement.

Myth: Sexual harassment is not the same as sex-based discrimination.

Fact: Sexual harassment is a subset of sex-based discrimination, which is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Regardless of the genders of those involved in any one incident, the aggressor would not, in theory, be behaving in the same way with a person of a different gender.

Myth: I shouldn’t file a sexual harassment claim because my employer might fire me.

Fact: Retaliation is forbidden by Title VII, and if your employer does take negative employment action against you, you may be able to file a claim for wrongful termination. Contacting an attorney can help you determine how to proceed.

Call A Charleston Employment Discrimination Attorney

It’s important to understand what is fact and what is fiction in regards to sexual harassment. Being sexually harassed while at work can be a dehumanizing experience. If it has happened to you, contacting a South Carolina employment discrimination attorney can be the first step toward finding justice. Attorney A. Christopher Potts can offer compassionate representation during what can be a frightening time. Call the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today to schedule a consultation.

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