When to call a sexual harassment lawyer in Houston, TX
Sexual harassment can take many forms: comments about your body, rumors about your sex life, unwanted touching, and more. Whatever form it takes, sexual harassment doesn’t just happen once. It happens again and again, making an entire group or community feel at risk.
Often, sexual harassment is not reported. Victims feel like they have no options. They worry how others will respond to any action they take. They often feel alone and unsure of how to move forward. An important step for victims of sexual harassment is to speak with a sexual harassment attorney in Houston, TX.
What is sexual harassment?
First, you have to know what sexual harassment is. If you’ve been harassed, speak with a sexual harassment lawyer in Houston, TX about the details of your situation. Once your lawyer has enough information, they can tell you if you should start a claim.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome verbal, physical, or visual contact. Typically, the contact must be sexual in nature, and must be severe. The harassment must also affect the victim’s ability to do their work.
There are two types of behavior that enter the sexual harassment category. The first type of behavior is minor. Most courts will not even view cases with these types of behavior. However, repeated instances of some actions could be grounds for a claim of sexual harassment. These include:
- Comments about the victim’s body
- Jokes of a sexual nature
- Requests for sexual favors
- Requests for dates
- Spreading rumors about the victim’s sex life
- Pictures or emails that are sexual in nature
- Touching the victim’s clothing
Whether you need the assistance of a sexual harassment attorney in Houston, TX, depends on the situation. If a person accidentally touches you, it isn’t harassment. If they tell one joke, this also isn’t harassment. However, if the action occurs again and again, in most cases it can be defined as sexual harassment.
Repeated comments about your body can reach sexual harassment status, especially if you have asked the commenter to stop. In these kinds of situations, you have options. You have the right to consult a sexual harassment lawyer even if you’re not sure if you experienced harassment. Contact a sexual harassment lawyer in Houston, TX to get answers.
Some types of behaviors are more severe than those listed above. These behaviors should be discussed quickly with a sexual harassment attorney, because they are always considered harassment. They include:
- Rape or attempted rape
- Battery or attempted battery
- Threats of any type of physical violence
- Inappropriate exposure of body parts
If you’ve been the victim of any of these behaviors, speak with a sexual harassment lawyer in Houston, TX. You may have a sexual harassment case on your hands, and you’ll need your lawyer to move forward.
Is all sexually-oriented conversations sexual harassment?
The workplace can be a challenging environment. Sexual harassment can cause more problems. In most workplaces, there will be people who flirt, joke, and even date each other. This becomes even more common in big businesses with many employees. Larger numbers of people can mean more issues. But most employers know that telling their employees they can only talk business is unrealistic.
Knowing when personal boundaries have been crossed can also be tricky. It is important to be able to tell the difference between sexual harassment and flirty behavior. While the other person may feel that they are just being friendly, you may feel sexually harassed. If an individual’s comments make you feel uncomfortable, tell them right away. In most cases, the person will stop as soon as you call their attention to their behavior. Usually they will not have realized that their actions were making you feel upset.
If the person keeps harassing you, your next step should be to talk to your HR department. Reporting HR leaves a trail of evidence for your sexual harassment lawyer if you need to file a claim. Your lawyer can use this evidence to prove that the sexual harassment you experienced was not a one-time problem.
A more challenging issue is that of compliments. In and of themselves, compliments are not harassment, but they can become problematic. Positive comments about an individual’s work performance are legal and acceptable. But if there are more comments about a co-worker’s appearance than their work, that may be sexual harassment.
If you’ve told another person to stop complimenting you with no result, then it may be time to act. Report to your HR department, and then consult with a sexual harassment attorney.
What if the sexual harassment comes from my boss?
If sexual harassment comes from your superior, there are more factors you will have to consider. In small companies, the policy may be that harassment is reported to that same superior. There may not be an HR department to help. Even when there an HR department, many victims worry how reporting sexual harassment will affect them. They often worry that they’ll lose their job. For people with low-income individuals, this can a scary thought.
Since your supervisor has a position of power over you, your sexual harassment claim should be taken more seriously. Consult a sexual harassment attorney in Houston, TX about skipping reporting to HR and filing with the EEOC directly.
If you face harassment issues by your superior, you must talk to a sexual harassment lawyer. Often, the sexual harassment is not going to end simply because you ask your superior to stop. In many situations, harassment comes from a desire for power and control over you. You may need to file a claim to stop it. Your sexual harassment attorney in Houston, TX can help.
Try not to worry about how your employer reacts to your claims. If your supervisor has harassed you, you have a case. You are under no obligation allow this to continue. There are laws in place to protect you against this kind of behavior. Talk to a sexual harassment lawyer to understand your rights and start the process of filing your claim.
What if the sexual harassment has become physical?
Sexual harassment is not limited to comments alone: it may include unwanted touch. In some cases, it can also become violent, which is a crime. If your sexual harassment is physical in nature, you must talk to a sexual harassment lawyer. Physical harassment often gets worse, not better, and is considered a crime.
There are several types of physical crimes in the category of sexual harassment in the workplace. They include:
- Forcible Touching and Rape: Rape and any form of forced sexual intercourse is a crime. Touching intimate body parts without consent, whether above or below clothing, is a crime. Any forcible touching whether for gratification or degradation is a crime as well. This could include groping, pinching, or sexual acts.
- Assault: Physical contact does not always need to be sexual in nature for it to be a part of sexual harassment. Actions that fall in this category are meant to scare or pressure the victim, such as hitting and punching.
- Menacing: If a victim has experienced physical violence from the harasser but isn’t injured, they may fear harm or death. This would make the action fit the category of menacing.
- Stalking: Stalking could include physically following the victim. However, it can also include unwanted communication in notes, texts, emails, and phone calls. Stalking happens when invasive actions make the victim fear for their safety again and again.
Even if your harasser’s actions are not seen as criminal, they may be sexual harassment. If an individual’s actions make you feel unsafe, working with a sexual harassment attorney in Houston, TX can help. Many victims feel scared and confused, or do not know their options for dealing with sexual harassment. Your sexual harassment lawyer can answer your questions and help you find a way forward.
What steps should I take if I’m being sexually harassed at work?
If you believe that you are a victim of sexual harassment, there are several steps you should take. These give your sexual harassment lawyer in Houston, TX the details they’ll need to help. These steps include:
- Documenting any quid pro quo: Create a record of any interaction where your harasser implies that compliance with will benefit you in some way. This may include threats of being fired or demoted, as well as offers of perks or promotions. Write any of these incidents down, including the place, time, and date.
- Document comments and treatment: This would include any comments about your gender, your looks, or your clothing style and how you look. These kinds of comments would need to happen more than once for a claim. If you are treated differently based on gender, note that as well.
- Document any accommodations the workplace offered or didn’t offer, such as providing additional training and/or changing roles or work schedules so the involved parties would be on different shifts.
- Keep your notes safe: Never leave records of harassment in your workplace. Your employer may see and remove any notes that are in your workspace or computer. This may also cause problems if you are fired, as you might not gain access back to your notes. To avoid these issues, keep any notes at home or in your personal belongings.
- Gather the evidence: Harassers may try to prevent you from building evidence of your situation. They may also accidently help you collect evidence with cards, emails, texts, calls, or contact on social platforms like Snapchat. Keep all evidence of your interactions, and make copies in case things get lost. You can use these items later in your claim.
- Report the harassment: You are legally required to report sexual harassment. Also, you cannot file a suit without prior reporting. This requirement is meant to give your employer time to correct the situation. Check your company’s sexual harassment policy. This will show you where you should report your harassment. There should also be other choices if needed.
- Report in writing. Verbal complaints are not enough. Also, follow up on your report in writing. These steps will help protect you later if your company does not choose to fire the harasser. They are only required to make the harassment stop, so if the company does not do so, they are liable for the harassment.
- File with the EEOC: If you reported the harassment and your employer refuses to take any action, you still have options. You can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission between 180 to 300 days from the date of harassment. Once you file with the EEOC, you are protected from your employer. The employer can try to take action against you, but the EEOC is required to protect you if needed.
- Find a sexual harassment lawyer: The EEOC will do its best, but it is often overloaded with cases. This could mean that your case gets postponed. Working with a sexual harassment attorney in Houston, TX protects you against delays. Your lawyer works directly for you, so your case will not be pushed down the line. If needed, your lawyer will help file a suit against your employer for any liability from continuing harassment.
Do I need to hire a sexual harassment attorney in Houston, TX?
If you feel that you are being harassed in the workplace, get help. You may need to file a claim against your harasser, your employer, or in some cases, both. A sexual harassment lawyer will be there to help you walk through this process.
First, make sure that you follow the steps in the section above. Always report any sexual harassment, as you are required to do so. Whether or not you want to sue your company, forgetting a step can harm your case.
The law states you must report any sexual harassment prior to filing a claim. This allows the company to have the chance to rectify the situation. There is no guarantee that they will make any changes, but they must be given the chance. Some companies respond well, firing the offender, implementing new rules, or mandating new employee training.
If the company make no changes after your report, then it is liable for any additional harassment that occurs. If your harassment continues, the company can be sued. Reporting every detail of your harasser’s actions helps protect you in advance.
Many victims choose to file with the EEOC and take no other action. However, hiring a sexual harassment attorney in Houston, TX can result in a better outcome.
If you’re a victim, looking for a sexual harassment attorney in Houston, TX is an important step. Contact us at Texas Sexual Harassment Lawyer: our team is here to help you deal with this traumatic situation. Contact us today to get started.