The #MeToo Transformation and Sexual Harassment/Misconduct in the Workplace

July 8, 2019

The MeToo has transformed the public knowledge of workplace sexual misconduct and harassment in America. Have you been experiencing unwanted sexual treatment or misconduct at your own job?

How to Recognize Unlawful Sex Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace

There are two types of laws that protect all genders against sexual misconduct: criminal laws against sexual assault and civil laws against harassment and discriminatory treatment.

In this blog, we focus on the civil laws, since most workplace harassment takes this form and many people don’t understand their legal options or laws that apply.

It’s important to know that not all specific acts of sexual misconduct are illegal. Sexual harassment and discrimination lawyers will tell you that a good way to think about which behaviors are against the law is to think about them in terms of their economic impact on you. At Shegerian Conniff we have pages of information on sex discrimination and harassment, but here are some general guidelines for recognizing unlawful conduct:

  • Were you coerced into sexual acts either under threat of punishment or as a condition to career advancement?
  • Were you prevented from doing your job effectively due to sexual harassment or workplace hostility toward you on the basis of your sex?
  • Were you subject to repeated, intrusive, hurtful remarks on the basis of your sex?
  • Were you fired, demoted, or passed over for a promotion or a new job offer on the basis of your sex?
  • Were you denied company benefits or given reduced benefits because of your sex?
  • Did any of the above things happen to your coworkers?

The above situations are where sexual harassment laws are strongest but there are plenty of situations which are illegal that may not be listed above. If you feel you are being harassed or discriminated against based on your gender or sex, it is a good idea to consult with a sexual harassment lawyer to discuss your specific situation.

A Problem as Old as Time

Sex discrimination, harassment, and misconduct is an age old problem. Women, along with minorities and sometimes men, have always been subjected to sexual abuses by people with economic power over them.

Even today, there are companies and whole industries that have a toxic, dismissive, abusive attitude toward their female workers. It exists at all levels of the economy, from financial giants in the global market to small time family owned businesses. The whole point of sexism is that a woman can be mistreated for no other reason than that she’s a woman. A woman can do everything right—personal wealth, a good education, powerful connections, good behavior, a highly respected job—and still find herself the victim of unwanted touching, catcalls, inappropriate “jokes”, missed promotions, unequal pay, and far worse.

Women who aren’t at the top of the economic ladder have it much worse. Those who  are poor, undereducated, foreign-born,  disabled, or who are otherwise socially disadvantaged are at even greater risk for sex discrimination. They often don’t know that many forms of sexual misconduct they are facing is against the law at one given time, or that there are sexual harassment lawyers who can help them.

Listening to Victim’s Stories

Sexual misconduct in the workplace isn’t going away because typically businesses don’t listen when victims report these abuses. Supervisors and Human Resource departments routinely ignore complaints or merely engage in cover ups, bog them down in red tape, or even threaten or punish the victims as those are perceived as the “easiest” course of actions,

What the #MeToo Movement has successfully done is draw national attention to this awful and unlawful part of the workplace. #MeToo, first and foremost, is a movement based on building awareness so victims can gain strength from others experiences:

  1. No, you’re not alone.
  2. Sexual harassment is everywhere.
  3. Yes, the harasser usually get away with it.
  4. And reporting it often does backfire on the victim.

Only Light Can Drive Out the Darkness

The #MeToo Movement has specifically focused on sexual misconduct in the workplace. As sexual harassment lawyers and victims themselves come forward, the workplace is a prime breeding ground for these abuses to occur. A victim’s job is something is needed, either to support herself or her family or to advance her career. Walking away is not an option. That’s why so many women feel compelled to put up with denigrating and even violent behavior against them in the workplace.

Now that #MeToo is bringing these abuses to light, the reality of the darkness of the harassers’ actions as well the corporations’ tacit approval of those actions, has rightfully horrified the public. One after another, powerful men who abused that power have been falling to the collective outrage of the nation.

On the other hand, it’s a mistake to think that these problems only happen at the hands of men or women at the top of the corporate structure. Sexual harassment lawyers and research points out that one of the most terrifying and pervasive aspects of sexual harassment is that it doesn’t just come from supervisors and executives, but from peers and subordinates. Victims are routinely exposed to harassment from anywhere in the chain of command.

If you feel as though you have experienced sexual harassment or sex discrimination in the workplace, then you may have a legal claim against your employer. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statutes of limitations as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice. Click to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.