Sexual harassment in the workplace is becoming a more prevalent problem in the state of Ohio.
But, did you know that an employer can be held liable for an employee’s sexual harassing and discriminatory conduct? That’s right – pursuant to the United States Supreme Court decision in Faragher v. City of Boca Raton and Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth – employers must be mindful of this.
In this post, we’ll share a few thoughts on sexual harassment in the workplace. (If you need to speak with an attorney, click here to schedule a free consultation.)
Requirements for Liability
In order for an employer to be held liable for an employee’s sexual harassment of another worker a Plaintiff must show that:
1) he or she was a member of a protected class;
2) that the employee was subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment in the form of sexual advances or request for sexual favors;
3) that the employee reported the sexual harassment to his or her employer;
4) that the employer knew or should have known of the sexual harassment committed by the employee; and
5) despite the employer knowing about the sexual harassment, the sexual harassment continued.
The issue of whether a work environment is hostile or abusive is determined by looking at all of the circumstances involved including “the frequency of the discriminatory conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.” The sexual harassment needs to be “unwelcome, severe or pervasive enough” to affect an employee’s work environment and create a hostile work condition.
Ohio Sexual Harassment Law
Under Ohio law, harassing conduct that is simply abusive with no sexual element can support a claim for hostile work environment and sexual harassment if it is directed at an employee because of his or her sex.
Most employers have a company policy that provides rules to follow when an employee has been sexually harassed. If you have been a victim of harassment in the workplace, you need to carefully read your company policy to determine if a sexual harassment policy exists. If it exists, you must follow all of the instructions given to you so that you can properly report your complaint with your employer.
If a policy does not exist, you must immediately notify your supervisor or a management level employee that you report to. Describe, in detail, all of the times you were sexually harassed and outline, in detail, the things that the employee did and said. Keep a diary of all of the times the employee harassed you and all of the things the employee said and did.
Talk to an Attorney in Ohio
Do you need help dealing with a potential sexual harassment case? Contact Tom Somos today and schedule a consultation.