Employees clock into their respective workplaces each day to earn an honest living across the state. Some have their sights set on putting their children through college, while others want to retire and fish their remaining years away. Many put in long hours towards their goals, hoping for financial rewards or career advancement.
Work can already be stressful on its own, so when an immediate supervisor makes snide sexual jokes or suggests an individual engage in sexual acts with them to receive a favorable performance evaluation, it adds additional layers of stress and undue harm.
Sexual harassment at work in Florida is an unfortunate reality thousands of men and women live with each day. Not only do these violations occur in the office, on the production line or inside a restaurant, but they happen during the hiring process as well.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment, a subordinate of workplace sexual harassment, is growing faster than the economy of Florida. Armed with facts, you can stop this from growing into a pandemic. With an experienced Tampa sexual harassment lawyer, you may be able to recover compensation for lost compensation and suffering caused by sexual harassment.
What is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?
In the simplest terms, quid pro quo means “A favor with the expectation of receiving one back.” In terms of workplace sexual harassment, then, quid pro quo harrassment is when an employment candidate is hired or promoted (or offered employment or a promotion) on the condition they first perform sexual favors.
Other examples of quid pro quo sexual harassment include:
- Being told you would get promoted if you remove clothing and expose yourself;
- Having an executive threaten you with legal action if you do not comply with their sexual needs;
- Receiving a company car with the expectation you will “put out” in the back seat; and,
- Getting your own office if you agree to exchange dirty photos with your superiors.
This form of sexual harassment has repercussions if the victim fails to comply. For example, that same employment candidate may not get hired if they refuse the sexual advances of the interviewer, or you may be demoted for refusing to “put out.”
Employee Workplace Rights in Florida
Although Florida is an “employment at will” state, employees are still afforded both civil and constitutional rights when at work. These rights are not precluded by employer rules and regulations as they are protected by Florida law. They include:
- The ability to work without fear of persecution or harassment;
- The right to feel safe;
- The right to be promoted based on merit and attendance;
- The right to apply for work without fear of discrimination; and,
- The right to report any unsafe, harassing, hostile or discriminatory practices without retaliation.
When it comes to sexual harassment, victims are subject to hostile work environments and retaliation. When their rights are infringed and their employers do nothing to remedy the situation, victims may be able to sue their employers.
Civil Remedies for Victims of Sexual Harassment at Work
Section 760.10 of The Florida Civil Rights Act (“FCRA”) of 1992 mirrors the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the protections given to employees. Sexual harassment in and of itself is not addressed by name in the Act and can be tough to litigate since the Act does not address individual liability.
However, you are able to file an action against your place of employment for sexual harassment on the premise of retaliation or incitation of a hostile work environment.
In proving retaliation, your Tampa sexual harassment lawyer must prove three components:
- You were harassed sexually (protected activity)
- Your employer performed some type of derogatory action when you reported the sexual harassment, such as firing or demoting you (negative action); and
- Both the above are directly related (causation).
Your attorney can help show the causal links to best illustrate the improper actions and the effects they’ve had on your life.
Hostile Work Environment
Proving sexual harassment at work created an untenable environment is another way to hold your employer accountable. Workplace hostility can happen in numerous ways, including:
- Being the center of, or being forced to discuss, sexual activities;
- Inappropriate touching and sexual advances despite your clear indication that it is not OK;
- Constantly being teased with sexually provocative noises or gestures such as suction sounds, repetitive winking, or pelvic thrusting in a sexually suggestive manner;
- The frequent use of sexually demeaning terms or erotic epithets; and,
- Indecent gestures or the use of crude sexual language.
Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court has maintained that U.S. harassment laws are not a civility code. In order to bring a suit against your employer for workplace hostility, victims must first act to report the harassment.
Combating Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Victims of sexual harassment in Florida have options. If you are sexually berated, the victim of catcalling, or are constantly reminded that a promotion can happen if you perform sexual actions, you should:
- Demand the harasser cease any further harassment;
- Immediately file a complaint to any supervisor within your company;
- File a formal complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations within one (1) year;
- File a complaint with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 calendar days of the incident;
- Retain an attorney who specializes in personal injury; and,
- Continue to document incidents as they happen.
Following the steps above will hopefully thwart future advances. Plus, these steps are necessary to substantiate your claim of sexual harassment. At minimum, you must have filed a formal complaint with the EEOC that links sexual harassment with either retaliation or hostile work environment to file a civil action.
Fed up? Hire an Experienced Sexual Harassment Attorney.
To litigate sexual harassment at work in Florida, you need an attorney that is committed to client excellence and knows how to stand up for aggrieved employees. Our firm exemplifies these traits, having represented employees in similar matters with an unwavering commitment to holding the aggressor accountable for their actions.
Having your peace of mind and personal space violated due to sexual harassment is serious. Serious cases require an equally serious attorney knowledgeable in Florida law to hold the party or parties involved accountable. If you are tired of being abused at work, have been retaliated against for reporting inappropriate behavior, or want your current employer to stop allowing such behaviors, contact Burnett Law today to schedule your free consultation.