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Sexual harassment can create a hostile work environment

In the course of the last 100 years, there have been great advancements in the workplace. Specifically, there have been changes made regarding how employees are treated and the legal recourse available in the event of mistreatment, such as sexual harassment, that results in a hostile work environment. A large portion of this change can be credited to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Despite the strides that have been made, many people in West Virginia have found themselves to be the victims of sexual harassment in the work place.

Sexual harassment is considered to be a form of discrimination under Title VII, which applies to any business that employs over 15 workers. While most people are aware of the term, many aren't fully cognizant of what qualifies as harassment. For example, both men and women can be victims, and the harasser doesn't have to be a member of the opposite sex. Additionally, the victim does not have to be the recipient of the behavior, but could be a witness whose work performance is influenced by the sexually offensive behavior.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommends that the victim expresses his or her displeasure concerning the conduct directly to the harasser. Additionally, it recommends that the employee utilize any sort of employee grievance system that may be in place within the company. The EEOC outlines several measures to decrease the likelihood of sexual harassment in the workplace, including training, creating a grievance system and following through regarding complaints with appropriate action in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, some people in West Virginia take every action they can and still find themselves the victim of a hostile work environment. In some cases, workers are retaliated against for filing a complaint about such actions, typically in the form of termination -- an act that is also illegal. By taking legal recourse, such victims not only have the potential of being awarded monetary damages and other relief, but could also protect others from going through the same experiences in the future.

Source: eeoc.gov, "Facts About Sexual Harassment", , Sept. 21, 2014

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