Many people understand sexual harassment as the stereotypical workplace culture where two male employees are standing by the water cooler and comment on how “nice” the female secretary looks in that skirt as they watch her walk by. While this does constitute sexual harassment, it’s not the only instance in which sexual harassment occurs. Sexual harassment can take place in any location at any time. Anyone can be sexually harassed by anyone else. Any unwarranted or unwanted sexual expression that makes you feel uncomfortable is considered sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can result in a victim experiencing physical trauma from being judged by the way they look. There are also underlying emotional and mental traumas that often go unnoticed. Constant harassment about someone’s sexuality or sexual appeal can greatly diminish their confidence and esteem. The state of Missouri is very clear in its zero tolerance with regard to this matter and we here at the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm abide by that same policy.
We believe you are entitled to feel at ease with yourself without someone else adding the unnecessary stress of sexual harassment to your life.
The common misconception with sexual harassment is that it is only prevalent in the working world and usually committed by a superior in the office. In reality, sexual harassment includes a wide variety of sexual comments, jokes, actions, and exhibits that someone doesn’t want to experience. That sexually charged joke you heard at the bar that made you uncomfortable is considered sexual harassment just as is the crude comment those two co-workers of yours made at the water cooler. Harassment victims are not exclusively female and perpetrators are not exclusively male. While that may be the most common circumstance, any gender can receive harassment from any gender, even the same sex. Regardless of your situation, do not ever be afraid to step forward if you feel you have been sexually harassed. Our culture has built the mindset that sexual harassment only occurs when a superior addresses a subordinate in an inappropriate way – mostly in a boss-to-employee relationship. This concept exemplifies the very problem with sexual harassment: making the victim feel powerless and helpless. Sexual harassment can and does occur in many ways outside of the office as well and should not be overlooked. At the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm we firmly hold close to the belief that any form of sexual harassment should not go unpunished and the victim deserves to feel comfortable without any complications.
The recent decline in general courtesy and politeness has led to an increase in lewd behavior in public. Indecent displays of affection, impolite cat-calling, and sexual innuendos have all become more prevalent in today’s society. More women are entering the workforce every year and with that comes a greater potential of activity that qualifies as sexual behavior. This growing trend puts women at a greater risk of being a victim of sexual harassment no matter where you may be. It is important to note that men can be victims of sexual harassment as well, but history has shown women to be the victims significantly more often than men. The Association for Women for Action and Research states that 79 percent of sexual harassment victims are female. They go on to mention this still leaves 21 percent of victims as males, which reflects a large population. With the unfortunate growing trend, another side-effect not many people consider is the dilution of inappropriate behavior. The increasing nature of general discourtesy dilutes the significance of more minor actions that are also considered to be sexual harassment – meaning that a the smallest gesture or comment by someone else that causes you discomfort may often be attributed to over-sensitivity is, in reality, sexual harassment.
It is extremely important to know your rights and what constitutes sexual harassment. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Council (USEEOC) clearly defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” Additionally the USEEOC offers guidelines to who can experience sexual harassment and what other environmental factors qualify as sexual harassment:
- The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
- The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
- Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
- The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
The USEEOC continues to state that it helps for the victim to tell the perpetrator he or she is uncomfortable with their behavior and request them to stop. They encourage the victim to use any company resources to report sexual harassment. It is important to know that you do not have to be directly harassed to be a victim.
However, companies sometimes fail to protect the victims despite these sexual harassment programs. Organizations both big and small will try to sweep sexual harassment allegations under the rug in attempt to avoid a bad public image. We’re here for you because your safety and security is more important than the harasser’s image. As the victim, your right to security comes before the organization’s right to save face. Many victims are afraid to step forward for fear of being called a liar or blamed for “crying wolf” and being ostracized from the rest of their co-workers. Our goal at Krause & Kinsman Law Firm is to make sure these companies do not try to downplay your claim. These perpetrating organizations also will often make the process of filing sexual harassment claims long and tedious in an attempt to discourage you from continuing with your suit. As a law firm with a steadfast position in this topic we will fight to earn you the compensation you deserve while simultaneously maintaining your safety and security. You are entitled to compensation if you are sexually harassed and our goal is to help you collect that compensation and help you recover to where you were before the traumatic experience.
At the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm we believe that your healthiest state of mind is one in which you do not have to worry about being objectified by the way you look or the manner in which you speak. Rather you should be appreciated for the personal qualities you provide both in your workplace and social life. You are entitled to be comfortable in your own skin without the weight of sexual harassment weighing on you all the time. There is never a situation where sexual harassment it acceptable or even warranted.
We will not stand for sexual harassment of any kind and neither should you.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.