Alexandria Sexual Harassment Lawyers
Sexual harassment in Alexandria is defined as gender discrimination. It is illegal and can include acts of sexual advances that are unwanted, requests for sexual favors, as well as verbal or physical actions that are sexual in nature. The experienced sexual harassment lawyers at Ashcraft & Gerel can help if you think you have a case.
When sexual harassment occurs, it can take place against a man or a woman of any race, nationality, sexual orientation, or religion. It can affect housing, employment, education, credit resources, accommodations from the public or health and social services.
Forms Of Sexual Harassment in Alexandria
Two of the forms of sexual harassment in Alexandria to which an individual can be subjected. These include quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile environment harassment.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment in Alexandria
With quid pro quo sexual harassment in Alexandria, an individual is forced to lose out on career opportunities as a result of the sexual behavior or misconduct that occurs from a harasser. This can include losing a job, losing a promotion, or losing out on pay.
Job benefits are diminished or lost as a result of the harassment and can refer to employment, housing or education. Under quid pro quo, a victim of sexual harassment loses out on job opportunities because the victim is unwilling to submit to the sexual advances, suggestions, or comments from the offender. It could be considered that if victims were to accept the sexual misconduct from the harasser, they could propel a career forward, keep the job, get a promotion or receive a pay raise as a result.
Simply by accepting or tolerating the misconduct form a harasser, it could be proven that a victim would have received favorable employment benefits versus if they rejected the sexual advances in a negative way. This type of harassment typically occurs from a person that is a position of authority such a manager, supervisor or boss.
Hostile Environment Harassment in Alexandria
Hostile environment harassment is also sexual discrimination that can make a workplace environment uncomfortable, hostile or hard to comfortably work. The behavior is sexual in nature and typically occurs by a co-worker, supervisor, vendor, customer or even a housing provider.
In this instance, a victim of hostile environment harassment undergoes sexual advances, gestures, and comments that are offensive and unwarranted. While there would be no possibility of an employee losing their job, pay, or promotion from their harasser, the environment that they are working in can become hard to work in, affect their job performance, and make it difficult to complete job responsibilities because of the actions of the harasser.
Claims that fall under the hostile environment harassment type must be:
- Unwanted or unwelcome
- Related to gender
- Severe in nature or pervasive where an abusive workplace or environment develops
- Unreasonable in nature
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in Alexandria?
Sexual harassment in Alexandria is unique in every case. It can take many forms and actions. Some examples of this type of sexual misconduct include:
- Comments that are sexual or suggestive
- Touching or physical contacted that is unwelcome or warranted
- Jokes that are sexual in nature
- Sexually explicit material
- Pictures or emails that are inappropriate or focused on unwanted sexual content
Liability for Employers for Sexual Harassment in Alexandria
Employers can be found liable for sexual discrimination that occurs to one of their employees. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that this sexual misconduct stops and that they take the appropriate measures to correct the abuse.
While there is no law requiring that an employer have a sexual harassment policy in place, it is suggested as a good practice. This can develop policies and procedures for an employee that is a victim of inappropriate sexual behavior to report this type of abuse or discrimination. It can also create guidelines for employees to follow to prevent sexual harassment and avoid this type of behavior by their co-workers, peers or other personnel.
Employers need to create a work environment that is free of sexual harassment in Alexandria for their employees. The steps they can take include:
- Communicating to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated
- Taking complaints so sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior seriously
- Taking immediate corrective action when a claim of sexual discrimination is reported by an employee
- Investigating any and all sexual misconduct complaints thoroughly
- Providing training to staff and supervisors about sexual harassment
- Ensuring proper reporting by supervisors to the proper company authorities of any employee’s sexual harassment complaints
- Disciplining anyone on staff that violates the company policy related to sexual harassment
- Recording and keeping all information related to the sexual misconduct events
- Providing continuous check ups of victims of sexual harassment to ensure the abuse by the harasser has stopped
- Holding exit interviews with all employees to discover any sexual harassment abuse that has been kept a secret or hidden from supervisors.
Sexual Harassment in Alexandria Laws
Sexual harassment in Alexandria is protected by both state and federal law. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1991 provide provisions of protection for victims of discrimination. There are also state laws that have been developed under the policies of the Department of Human Resource Management and Virginia Employment Commission Agency Policy on Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity.
These laws govern the procedures for handling sexual harassment in Alexandria as well reporting, investigation and filing lawsuits against liable employers.
Proving Sexual Harassment in Alexandria
Victims of sexual harassment in Alexandria are required to prove the actual misconduct occurred by the harasser. They bear the burden of proof and will need evidence supporting their claims. A human rights investigator with the Virginia Council on Human Rights (VCHR) from the city of Alexandria will determine if the allegations as presented by the victim are truthful and accurate. In their investigation, they will consider:
- The frequency of the sexual misconduct
- The severity of the sexual harassment
- The context and events surrounding the alleged sexual harassment incidents
- If the harasser was told or knew that their sexual misconduct was unwarranted
- The effects of the sexual abuse on the victim including work performance and mental, physical and emotional impact
- If the employer knew or should have known that that harassment was occurring
- What corrective measures were taken by the employer to stop the sexual advances, gestures or suggestions
Filing a Complaint Against Sexual Harassment in Alexandria
To file a claim of sexual harassment in Alexandria, the VCHR should be contacted. It is possible to solely file a sexual discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) instead. The two agencies have a working partnership that allows cross-filings with either agency for compliance with the law in your case. It is not necessary to file separate complaints with each agency.
Under federal law, employers with under 15 employees cannot have a sexual harassment claim filed against them with the EEOC. However, the VCHR does allow for claims to be filed against smaller employers with six to 14 employees and these complaints should be filed solely with this agency.
Deadlines for Filing a Complaint of Sexual Harassment in Alexandria
When filing a sexual harassment complaint against an employer, it is important to adhere to the time deadlines that have been set by the VCHR. Time limits are strict by both agencies with minimal exceptions provided. Your claim must be filed with the VCHR or EEOC with 180 days of the act of sexual harassment by your harasser. Federal law requires that EEOC claims are filed within 300 days of the discrimination acts. Both filings can be cross-filed with either agency.
Compliant Process For Sexual Harassment in Alexandria
After filing a sexual harassment complaint with the VCHR or the EEOC, the agency will provide a copy of the charge to the victim as well as the employer within ten days of the claim filing. The agency may choose to enact a mediation process between the victim and the employer. The employer may also be asked to provide a written response to the allegations and answer a series of questions related to the charge. An investigation might be held to determine the events that occurred and led up the complaint of inappropriate sexual misconduct and examine the what corrective measures if any were taken.
The agency can dismiss the claim if it was not filed promptly or if there is not proper jurisdiction for the EEOC to be involved.
During an investigation by the agency, witnesses will be interviewed, and documentation will be requested. It is the responsibility of the victim to record the sexual harassment events in writing as well as the response and actions taken by the employer. The victim of sexual harassment should have told their harasser to stop in a clear way and notified their employer of the unwanted behavior. The employer has the responsibility to take proper corrective measures to eliminate the behavior in an appropriate and reasonable way.
Following an investigation, the agency will notify the victim as well as the employer of its finding. If it is determined that discrimination did not occur, the victim will receive a notice of right to sue. This allows the victim to file a lawsuit in a court of law. At this time, a sexual harassment attorney may need to be obtained to proceed with the legal process. This can help move through the legal process and assure the proper laws are followed for a lawsuit against an employer and/or harasser.
When the agency determines that sexual discrimination has occurred and the complaint is accurate in its account, it will work with the employer to reach a voluntary settlement agreement for the victim. If a settlement cannot be reached, the agency or in some instances the Department of Justice will advise the victim of their legal rights and determine whether the agency will file a lawsuit on behalf of the victim to remedy the complaint. If the agency decides not to pursue legal action against the employer, the victim will also receive a notice of right to sue, allowing them to proceed with legal action as they determine fit.
Hiring Sexual Harassment Lawyers in Alexandria
Hiring a qualified attorney that is experienced in sexual harassment can help a victim file a complaint of inappropriate behavior or discrimination with the proper agency under the guidelines and timeline required. An attorney can walk a victim of inappropriate sexual misconduct through the legal process and makes sure they follow the laws governing sexual harassment in Alexandria.
Because Alexandria doesn’t allow for compensatory damages to be sought in a sexual discrimination case, the sexual harassment lawyers that a victim decides to hire may determine that it is necessary to take the case to a federal court under federal law. Once the notice of right to sue is obtained by the victim, they have 90 dates for the date of receipt to file a lawsuit in federal court. Claims in Alexandria need to be made within 180 days from the date that the sexual harassment acts occurred in state court.
Hiring sexual harassment lawyers can help move a lawsuit forward in the appropriate court and help a victim reach a reasonable and desired settlement with their employer. When a victim hires a sexual harassment attorney to represent them in their case, they can be assured that they will receive the following:
- Quick and complete filing of their complaint with the correct agencies
- Legal counsel and advice specific to their case
- Guidance on how to proceed with a lawsuit to procure a settlement
- Proper representation in court for all proceedings
- Negotiations on the victim’s behalf of settlement awards with the employer
How Can Legal Advice Help Cases Against Sexual Harassment in Alexandria?
If you are a victim of sexual harassment and have been discriminated against because of a harasser, you need the help of our sexual harassment lawyers. We have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys in Alexandria that know the law and can help you get the justice you deserve against your harasser and your employer. Contact us today to setup a consultation to discuss your case and identify the steps to take to stop sexual harassment.