Here’s what to do if you are sexually harassed at work

Published: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 5:04 PM
Updated: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 5:04 PM

What to Do If You're Sexually Harassed at Work

Sexual harassment is not uncommon in the workplace. In a 2015 survey of 2,235 full-time and part-time female employees, Cosmopolitan found 1 in 3 women experienced sexual harassment at work at some point in their lives.

Here’s what you should know about sexual harassment in the workplace, according to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Labor:

What is sexual harassment?

Generally, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.

Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

According to the Department of Labor, there are two forms of sexual harassment:

  • Quid pro quo: Involves an employment decision based on submission to the sexual harassment, such as promotion, assignment or keeping your job
  • Hostile work environment: Sexual harassment makes workplace hostile, intimidating, abusive or offensive

Are there state laws with more protections against sexual harassment in addition to Title VII?

Some states have adopted stronger protections. Harassment can include, but is not limited to:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances;
  • Requests for sexual favors;
  • Other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature;
  • Non-sexual but offensive remarks about a person’s sex.

Harassment is illegal when:

  • Conduct is unwelcome;
  • Conduct is “based on the victim’s protected status”;
  • Subjectively abusive to person affected;
  • “Severe and pervasive” enough to create a work environment that a “reasonable person” would find hostile.
(PeopleImages/Getty Images)

What factors are used to determine of harassment is “severe and pervasive” enough?

  • Frequency of unwelcome conduct;
  • Severity of conduct;
  • Whether conduct was physically threatening/humiliating or “mere offensive utterance”;
  • Where conduct “unreasonably” interfered with work performance;
  • Effect on employee’s psychological well-being;
  • Whether harasser was a superior at the organization.

From the Department of Labor:

Each factor is considered, but none are required or dispositive. Hostile work environment cases are often difficult to recognize, because the particular facts of each situation determine whether offensive conduct has crossed the line from “ordinary tribulations of the workplace, such as the sporadic use of abusive language . . . and occasional teasing,” to unlawful harassment.

However, the intent of the Department of Labor's Harassing Conduct Policy is to provide a process for addressing incidents of unwelcome conduct long before they become severe and pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment under the law.

Does the gender of the victim or harasser matter?

No. Both the victim and harasser can be either a woman or a man — or both can be the same sex.

Does the title of the harasser matter?

No. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another department, a coworker, an employee of a separate employer, a client or a customer.

What about teasing?

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments or isolated incidents that are “not very serious.”

However, teasing becomes illegal when:

  • The behavior becomes frequent or severe;
  • The behavior creates a hostile or offensive work environment;
  • The behavior results in an adverse employment decision (victim is fired or demoted).

What if you weren’t directly harassed but you feel affected?

You do not have to be the victim of direct harassment to be affected by the offensive conduct. It is still considered sexual harassment, according to the EEOC.

What should you do if you experience sexual harassment?

Inform the harasser at once that the behavior is unwelcome, then directly use “any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.” 

This may include reaching out to your direct manager or employer or talking to your company’s human resources department. Check your employee handbook for more information.

If you really can’t find someone you trust, labor and law employment attorney Nannina Angioni suggests you contact the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Experts also recommend filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Find directions on the EEOC’s website.

You may also want to continue keeping a record of the discriminatory activity and seek support from friends and family.

(BURGER/Getty Images/Canopy)

What if speaking out is too difficult?

“Some victims will never report abuse, and they have that right,” psychologist Nekeshia Hammond told NBC News. “It’s a case by case thing, and sometimes there’s a reason for staying silent — if you feel your safety is threatened, or if you’re literally on the verge of having an emotional breakdown and will be unable to function. But you need to reach out to someone.”

Hammond recommends calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), which includes free services and confidential support.

Can staying silent work against me, legally?

According to the Department of Labor, “the department cannot correct harassing conduct if a supervisor, manager or other Department official does not become aware of it.”

In fact, when an employee “unreasonably fails to report harassing conduct,” the department can use this as a defense against a suit for harassment.

Additionally, if you file a complaint with the EEOC, it’s recommended you do so within 180 days of the discriminatory activity.

» RELATED: Woman says she lost work hours after reporting sexual harassment

How does the EEOC investigate allegations of sexual harassment?

The department looks at the circumstances of the misconduct, the nature of the sexual advances and the context in which the incidents allegedly occurred.

“A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis,” the EEOC website states.

How can companies stop sexual harassment from occurring?

According to the EEOC, prevention is the best tool. Employers should be vocal about the intolerance of sexual harassment and establish a complaint and grievance system.

Learn more about workplace sexual harassment at dol.gov and eeoc.gov.

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2018 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest: Contestants, how to vote and past winners

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 10:22 AM

The 2018 World's Ugliest Dog Contest is happening Saturday, June 21st at the Sonoma-Marin Fair.
Dale Godfrey
The 2018 World's Ugliest Dog Contest is happening Saturday, June 21st at the Sonoma-Marin Fair.(Dale Godfrey)

The World’s Ugliest Dog Competition is getting underway at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, and this year, fans around the world can vote for their favorite to win the People’s Choice Award.

>>PHOTOS: 2018 World’s Ugliest Dog contestants 

The World’s Ugliest Dog Competition takes place Saturday, June 23, after each contestant struts their stuff down the red carpet.

 

The California fair tradition dates back 30 years. Most of the World’s Ugliest Dog contestants are up for adoption and the event helps raise awareness of pet rescue and adoption.

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Past winners have been rescued from animal shelters and puppy mills.

Last year’s winner was Martha, a Neapolitan Mastiff who was being fostered by the Dogwood Animal Rescue Group.

Martha, a Neapolitan Mastiff, was crowned 2017's World's Ugliest Dog.(World’s Ugliest Dog Competition)

Martha has since been adopted.

The first place winner of the 2018 World’s Ugliest Dog Competition wins $1,500 and the grand trophy. The second place winner will receive $1,000 and third place will be granted $500. 

One dog will also be awarded the Spirit Award, which highlights one special dog and owner who have overcome obstacles or provided service in the community -- such as visiting nursing homes, reading at local libraries with children or spending time with patients in hospitals.

Cast your vote for People’s Choice Award in the 2018 World’s Ugliest Dog competition here

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2-year-old trapped under rock pile survived, thanks to cop with background as stone mason

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 11:57 PM



Pixabay
(Pixabay)

A two-year old trapped under a massive pile of rocks in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was released from the hospital Saturday, thanks to a police officer with a unique talent.

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It turned out the responding Portsmouth officer, T.J. Potter, had previous experience as a professional stone mason and specialized in historical foundation repair.

Potter's experience helped him accurately assess the danger the child was in and properly remove the slabs from on top of the child.

"[It was] a five man stone or a five man block which indicated that you would need four to five people to life it and set it on a wall, and we have done stones like that and built with stones like that, so I knew we could lift it by hand," Potter said.

"I think that was the main concern – can we lift it off the boy?"

Authorities responded to 325 Little Harbor Road after a distress call about a 2-year-old trapped under a pile of rocks. 

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When officers arrived, they found the boy pinned between large slabs of stone.

The boy had been playing on top one of the stone slabs with his grandfather when the slab he was standing on dislodged. The child fell forward and was trapped by the slab, which came to rest on his head.

The stone slabs are being used to build a foundation for a seawall and each slab is estimated to weigh several hundred pounds.

The situation was highly delicate, police said, because one of the stone slabs was resting on the child's head, and could have given way at any moment, putting the child at risk of sustaining the full weight of the stone on his head.

After a coordinated effort by police and firefighters, rescuers freed the boy in about nine minutes.

The child's parents were able to keep him calm as first responders worked their way around the stone slabs and rescued him.

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The child was first given emergency medical treatment at the scene then transported to the Portsmouth Regional Hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

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17-year-old twin sister shot, killed in road rage incident, police arrest suspect

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 11:04 PM

After a two-day search, police in metro Atlanta made an arrest in a possible road rage incident that left a 17-year-old girl dead.
Pixabay
After a two-day search, police in metro Atlanta made an arrest in a possible road rage incident that left a 17-year-old girl dead.(Pixabay)

Metro Atlanta police have made an arrest in the shooting death of a teenage girl in a possible road rage incident Wednesday at a busy intersection in Dacatur.

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Janae Owens, 17, was in a car with her mother at a red light Wednesday evening when police said a man in a black car opened fire, killing Owens and injuring her mother.

Decatur police arrested a man identified as Simmie Rishcard Reed late Friday night after an anonymous tip. Reed has been charged with one count of murder, two counts of aggravated assault with intent to murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

>> Related: Police: Road rage escalates to gunfire, kills 1 teen, injures another in Decatur

Owens’ family recently moved from Shreveport, Louisiana, to metro Atlanta for a better life, WSB-TV reported.

Investigators told the news station the gunfire was aimed at Owens’ mother, who was driving the car.

The woman’s injuries are not considered life-threatening. Owens’ twin sister was sitting in the back seat and was not injured in the shooting, according to WSB.

Police think road rage may have fueled the gunfire, but Sgt. John Bender told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the motive is still unknown.

Police said although Reed is behind bars, it is still an ongoing investigation.
>> Related: 17-year-old twin sister shot, killed in road rage incident, family distraught as police search for killer

Reed is scheduled to make a first court appearance Monday afternoon.

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4 children killed in violent police standoff laid to rest in Florida

Published: Saturday, June 23, 2018 @ 8:31 PM

The children killed in an Orlando police standoff with their mother's boyfriend are from top left (clockwise) Lillia Pluth, Irayan Pluth, Dove Lindsey and Aidan Lindsey. The children were laid to rest Saturday in Orlando.
The children killed in an Orlando police standoff with their mother's boyfriend are from top left (clockwise) Lillia Pluth, Irayan Pluth, Dove Lindsey and Aidan Lindsey. The children were laid to rest Saturday in Orlando.

Funeral services for four Orlando children killed during a 21-hour police standoff  with their mother’s boyfriend were held Saturday. 

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The services, which were open to the public, took place at St. James Catholic Cathedral in Orlando, according to an attorney representing the family.

The funeral marked a difficult day for the family of Dove Lindsey, 1, Aiden Lindsey, 6, Lillia Pluth, 10, and Irayan Pluth, 12.

The day also proved too emotional for the children's mother, Ciara Lopez. 

"I remain stuck in that one night, that one night where everything changed, standing outside that apartment, waiting for different news," she said in a statement. 

Detectives believe Gary Lindsey, 35, shot the children either shortly before or after police officers came to the door of his apartment June 10 in response to a domestic battery call from Lopez. She had escaped the apartment.

Lindsey fired at the responding officers, seriously wounding Officer Kevin Valencia, who remains in a coma. Lindsey was then holed up in the apartment for almost a full day. Officers found him dead in a closet when they entered the apartment the following day.

>>Related: Wife of Orlando officer in coma: ‘My kids need a daddy. This community needs a real hero'

The children were found in their beds, police said. 

Some of the officers who worked during the standoff went to the service. 

"It's heartbreaking to see, obviously a small casket, with an infant inside," said Orlando Police Chief John Mina. 

Lindsey was Lopez’s boyfriend and the mother of all four children. Lindsey was the father of two of the children.

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