Birmingham Sexual Harassment Attorney
Innovative and In-Depth Problem Solvers
At Burrell & McCants, LLC, we balance aggressive litigation techniques in the courtroom and compassionate communication with our clients in the consultation room. We passionately care about getting you the best result we can, especially when it comes to situations involving your civil rights, like in sexual harassment cases. Our firm is well-respected within the Birmingham community and take an innovative and in-depth approach to resolving your case.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
Under Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” According to this law, sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that:
- explicitly or implicitly affects a term or condition of an individual's employment;
- unreasonably interferes with an employee's work performance;
- creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Sexual harassment can be physical (e.g., touching or gesturing), verbal (e.g., requests for a date or sexual favors or lewd remarks), or visual (e.g., exposure to sexual photos, cartoons, or drawings). Note that only conduct that is unwelcome is unlawful. Activity is considered unwelcome if it was a sexually oriented advance, request, verbal or physical conduct, or unsolicited display of sexual material reasonably perceived as offensive when it occurred.
Some examples of prohibited conduct include:
- promising, directly or indirectly, to give an employee special treatment or benefits for complying with a sexually oriented request;
- threatening, directly or indirectly, to retaliate against an employee if the employee refuses to comply with a sexually oriented request;
- denying, directly or indirectly, an employee an employment-related opportunity if the employee refuses to comply with a sexually oriented request;
- engaging in sexually suggestive physical contact or touching another employee in a way that is unwelcome;
- displaying, storing, or transmitting pornographic or sexually oriented materials using the place of employment’s equipment or facilities;
- commenting about an individual's body, sexual prowess, or sexual deficiencies;
- making insulting or obscene comments or sexual gestures;
- engaging in indecent exposure; or
- making sexual or romantic advances toward an employee and persisting despite the employee’s rejection of the advances.
Be aware that sexual harassment does not have to be exclusively sexual in nature to be a violation of the law; a variant of sexual harassment may also include negative hazing, intimidation, or offensive remarks about members of a particular sex.
Keep in mind that sexual harassment can involve harassment by members of either sex or the same sex. Although sexual harassment typically involves someone in a greater position of authority as the harasser (such as the victim’s supervisor), it could also be a co-worker, a subordinate, or someone who is not even an employee.
Two Types of Harassment
Generally, there are two categories of sexual harassment that can occur in the workplace. “Quid pro quo,” which literally means “this or that,” is a form of sexual harassment committed by someone who has the power to make employment decisions that will impact the victim. For example, “quid pro quo” sexual harassment might occur if an employer says they will reward a victim with continued employment, raises, and promotions if the person performs sexual acts demanded by the employer. This might also mean that the employee could be fired or demoted if they do not cooperate.
Another form of harassment is the “hostile work environment,” which exists when an employee is subjected to unwanted sexual advances, propositions, jokes, or pictures while at work. Factors used by the courts to determine whether harassment unreasonably interfered with work performance or created a hostile work environment include:
- whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating as opposed to a mere offensive utterance;
- how frequently it was repeated;
- whether the conduct was hostile and patently offensive;
- whether the alleged harasser was a coworker or a supervisor;
- whether others joined in perpetrating the harassment.
Filing a Harassment Claim
In most cases, a victim has 180 days (6 months) to file a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if they seek to file a lawsuit against their employer for harassment. Note that Title VII prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who files a harassment charge or for speaking out against harassment in the workplace, so they should not fear their right to speak up.
Individuals who believe they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace should promptly report the incident to their immediate supervisor (or their next level supervisor if the immediate supervisor is the harasser) through the EEO/Civil Rights Compliance Complaint Form. If the employee is uncomfortable reporting the complaint to any member of their supervisory chain of command, they should report the conduct to the ALEA Personnel Director or the ALEA Chief Legal Counsel. Any allegations regarding the ALEA Chief Legal Counsel should be reported to the Deputy Secretary/Secretary. The employee’s complaint of harassment or discrimination must not be filed with or appealed to the alleged harasser. Note that an individual may file an anonymous complaint, though it may be difficult to hide a complainant’s identity when investigating a complaint.
Ley Burrell & McCants, LLC Help
If you have experienced sexual harassment, you have the right to take legal action immediately. Do not hesitate to consult one of our Birmingham civil rights lawyers to plan the next steps of your civil case. We will work with you to assert your rights and seek recovery from such illegal misconduct. You can trust us to fight aggressively for you in court while also communicating with you compassionately in the consultation room.
Got the charges dismissed, thanks for your help.- Darryl
Very knowledgeable and you will be very happy.- Ashlie
Him and his staff had been amazing.- Candance
Focused on actually listening to the clients' needs!- Ed
Best lawyer ever.- Antoinette