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Avoiding sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace

Sexual harassment and discrimination is an ongoing issue in the workplace, including in West Virginia. It may be helpful to understand what behaviors qualify as sexual harassment and discrimination, as well as how to respond after an incident. The appropriate course of action and potential legal options differ, depending on the individual details of the case.

While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from certain types of discrimination, the employer will specify types of behavior that are inappropriate in the workplace. This means that a worker could still be held accountable for unacceptable behavior that violates company policy, even if he or she did not break a law. Victims should note that it can be beneficial to document incidents, as this can be useful in pursuing a claim officially.

An employee handbook should outline procedures for employees who wish to report an incident. No matter how an employer handles these incidents, it is within the rights of a victim of alleged harassment or discrimination to seek legal counsel regarding a possible civil claim. A lawyer can help an employee even before a sexual harassment and discrimination claim is reported to the employer, as well as provide guidance to pursue legal redress.

Sexual harassment and discrimination is unacceptable in any West Virginia workplace, yet victims may not seek help out of fear of retribution or embarrassment. If subjected to inappropriate behavior, unwanted sexual advances or discrimination based on religion, sex or other proscribed factors, victims deserve an advocate who will vigorously represent their best interests. Employees may find that it is optimal to have a complete case evaluation if they feel that their rights have been violated.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, "6 Things to Know About Workplace Sexual Harassment", Jada A. Graves, Feb. 12, 2015

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