As employment law attorneys in the Queen City of Cincinnati, Ohio, we make it our single priority to protect and advocate for the working sector of our population. You spend a great majority of your waking hours at work; unfortunately, there are bound to be issues at some point. You need to know that you have someone on your side when issues arise. This is why we are here.
We have over 30 years of combined experience in civil litigation and a successful record of high-profile cases. Over the years, we have found that one of the most common employment-related complaints from workers all across the board is sexual harassment—and for good reason. This is a serious issue that should be treated very seriously.
What is sexual harassment?
Your employer has an obligation to keep your workplace free of sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is the federal law that prohibits sexual discrimination and, under this, harassment. This does not mean that work relationships are completely prohibited. If the relationship between co-workers is consensual, it is legal. (Just keep in mind that your employer has the right to enforce rules on relationships in the office.)
But first, you may be wondering what exactly constitutes sexual harassment. The truth is that there are far too many things to list here, and each case depends on the circumstances. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and inappropriate sexual comments, jokes, or references; and can be either physical, verbal, or visual.
Many of our clients question whether or not they have been the victim of sexual harassment. If you feel that someone’s conduct of a sexual nature has made for an intimidating or hostile environment in the workplace, if you feel that you are expected to tolerate such behavior in order to keep your job, or if you feel that employment decisions are being based on such behavior, you most likely have a sexual harassment case.
The key is whether or not the conduct is welcome. If the conduct is unwelcome, then it will generally be considered sexual harassment. Just because you or others have not previously complained about an employee’s (or employer’s) sexual jokes or comments does not necessarily mean that those jokes or comments were welcome.
We also wish to point out that such jokes and comments don’t necessarily have to be lewd. As mentioned before, sexual harassment is considered sex discrimination under federal law. If an employee or someone else in the workplace is drawing attention to your gender (belittling you with sexist or other demeaning terms), you may have a sexual harassment claim and may be able to recover compensation for your suffering.
Do not make the mistake in thinking that women are the only ones who can suffer from such unjust conduct. This offense is gender-neutral and can affect men just as it does women. Historically, the majority of sexual harassment victims have been women, but they can just as easily be the perpetrator. We are all at risk.
Each case is different and requires investigation. At Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A. in Cincinnati, Ohio, the employment law team has successfully performed thorough investigations and litigated high-profile cases, bringing justice to those suffering from inappropriate conduct in the workplace.
It Affects Everyone—No Matter the Size
It is important to remember that all companies are at risk of sexual harassment issues, no matter their size. We have many billion dollar companies that are headquartered right here in Cincinnati, like P&G and Kroger. Large corporations like these have extensive sexual harassment policies and human resources teams that closely monitor these kinds of issues. If you work for one of these larger companies and you feel that you are being sexually harassed at work, the human resources personnel should be involved immediately and make sure that they see their policy through. Your complaint should be internally resolved.
However, this is not always the case. Just because these policies and staff are in place doesn’t mean that it totally prevents these situations from happening. If you are being harassed by one of the big names in your company—perhaps even an executive—you may be very hesitant to come forward. What could happen to you and your job? Would anyone even believe you against the word of an executive? What if it brings down the company?
These are all natural concerns to have, but they should not stop you from coming forward with your complaint. We recommend that you seek the counsel of a Cincinnati employment lawyer, such as the ones at Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A. We will listen to your story and tell you truthfully if you have a sexual harassment claim, and we can move your case forward if you do. Your story is safe with us; whatever you tell us will be held in strict confidentiality.
But large companies are not the only problem. In fact, small companies are often affected by inappropriate employee relations. Why is this? For one thing, many of these companies bring with them the new-age, progressive, carefree culture. We see this with many startups; a laid-back atmosphere is good for team-bonding, but harmless conversations and interactions can quickly become inappropriate for the workplace. Employers have a legal obligation to establish guidelines for behavioral conduct. If they haven’t, they may find that the casual environment on which they once prided themselves is now the root of a very serious issue.
There is another problem with these smaller businesses. Oftentimes, they do not have the procedures in place that larger companies have. They may not have communicated a sexual harassment or discrimination policy to their employees, because they may not have one! Without these things set down in writing, you may feel less safe in coming forth with your complaint. Keep in mind, however, that if your employer has not taken the proper precautions to keep your workplace free of sexual harassment, he or she may be legally liable for your discomfort and suffering.
Cincinnati, OH, has a booming small business sector that is benefiting our economy tremendously. The truth is, we are lucky to have many startups springing up every time we turn around. The employees at these companies need to know that they are protected and that they have an advocate in case their work environment becomes less than ideal. We have been that advocate for many, and we can be that advocate for you.
If you believe that you are the victim of sexual harassment at your job, we urge you to take action. Make sure that the harasser knows that his or her actions are unwelcome and that you plan to take further action with the company if it does not stop. If it continues, tell your HR department about it; if you work for a small company that does not have a human resources staff, follow your company’s harassment policy and tell the appropriate person. Finally, contact the attorneys at Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A. as soon as possible to learn about your legal options and rights.