Our Connecticut Attorneys Help Victims of Workplace Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault
When you go to work, you have the right to do you your job without the duress of intimidating and unwelcome sexual advances, whether physical or verbal. Yet in 2018, more than 13,000 charges of sex-based harassment allegations were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—and that doesn’t include filings made at state or local levels. Moreover, it reflects the greatest number of allegations made since 2010. Anybody, female or male, can be the victim of sexual harassment at work. Everybody who has been victimized by this type of workplace discrimination has the right to get legal representation. At Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau LLC, our knowledgeable attorneys have extensive experience representing victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault and know how to fight to protect your rights in the workplace.
We have obtained significant monetary recoveries for clients who were subjected to sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. We have also been able to cause employers to adopt new policies and procedures prohibiting workplace harassment and discrimination, and to ensure that policies prohibit retaliation against employees who report and complain about sexual harassment.
What constitutes sexual harassment?
Many people think of sexual harassment as a request for or insistence on sexual favors to ensure continued employment or job advancement, which is known as quid pro quo harassment. However, sexual harassment can also include unwanted physical contact, inappropriate comments or jokes, offensive remarks about one’s sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, or showing pornography. In order to be illegal harassment, the conduct must be so severe, pervasive, or frequent that it “creates a hostile or offensive work environment or results in an adverse employment decision.” At its core, sexual harassment is a type of discrimination. Moreover, it is a form of intimidation and coercion that has no place in any type of job. It can include:
A male employer harassing a female employee
A female employer harassing a male employee
Harassment by a non-employee or employer, such as a vendor or customer
Harassment by a co-worker, colleague or agent of the employer
Connecticut Laws Protecting Workers Against Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault in the Workplace
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, Connecticut General Statutes § 46a-60 prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” that is made a term or condition of employment or that is used as basis for employment decisions.
This type of sexual harassment is commonly referred to as quid pro quo harassment. When such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, such claims are referred to as hostile environment claims.
When an employee suffers a “tangible employment action” such as being denied employment or being fired, suspended or demoted based on a refusal to submit to sexual harassment at the hands of a supervisor the employer is strictly liable for the harm caused by this action. On the other hand, hostile environment claims arise when the workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult based on sex that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.
Hostile environment claims are subject to an affirmative defense by the employer when the conduct is alleged to have been engaged in by a co-worker and the employer has established a mechanism for promptly responding to complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Connecticut’s anti-discrimination laws protect workers against sexual harassment
Workplaces are required to prominently display a poster regarding Connecticut’s sexual harassment statutes. It clearly states that “Sexual harassment is illegal and is prohibited by the Connecticut Discrimination Employment Practices Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” In addition to spelling out those practices that constitute sexual harassment, the law includes remedies (both civil and criminal penalties) to which a perpetrator may be subject, including fines that could include compensatory and emotional distress damages.
Find out how we can help you get justice as a victim of sexual harassment
The knowledgeable, committed attorneys of Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau LLC believe in everybody’s right to have a workplace that is safe, fair and free of hostility and fear. To learn more about your rights as an employee and to discuss your situation, please contact us online or call us at (860) 246-2466 to schedule a confidential consultation in our Hartford or New London office.