Connecticut Sexual Harassment Lawyer
Sexual harassment in the Connecticut workplace is becoming one of the most prevalent, yet unaddressed, problems in courtrooms. Sexual harassment victims suffer through a perfect storm of anxiety and emotions: shame, fear, embarrassment, violation, and humiliation. Our increasingly work-centric society is causing many people to spend most of their waking hours at their jobs. As a result, and as the best employment attorneys and legal representatives who files sexual harassment lawsuits in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien and Westport Connecticut understand, the line between your private life and your work life can blur, especially when bosses and supervisors mistake civility and congeniality for flirtation and sexual innuendo. Even more critically, the surging popularity of email, Twitter, texting, sexting, Facebook and Instagram in the workplace further obscures boundaries between employer and employee, making social media a breeding ground for sexual harassment, frequently putting female employees in the awkward and uncomfortable position of not knowing how to respond to an inappropriate text or tweet.
As a result, Connecticut sexual harassment lawyers are getting calls (often female) employees who are being harassed and bothered by bosses, supervisors and co-workers who tread way over the line of professional workplace conduct. So, if you believe you are being sexually harassed, you should contact a top sexual abuse attorney who can advise you on your rights and whether you can sue your employer boss for sexual harassment.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
Any top Stamford, New Canaan or Greenwich Connecticut sexual harassment attorney will tell you that at its most basic form, “sexual harassment” in means unwanted sexual advances—physical, electronic or verbal—accompanied by threats to your job or adverse employment actions such as demotions or firings, or not receiving expected raises or bonuses. If the sexual harassment substantially interferes with your job or creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment, then that is also sexual harassment, even if there is no adverse employment action.
Sexual harassment is prohibited at both the state and federal levels, meaning you can sue for sexual harassment in both state and federal court. State law defines sexual harassment in C.G.S. § 46a-60(8) as unwarranted sexual advances or solicitation of sexual favors, arising in scenarios when your employment is conditioned upon your submission to those advances, or when your rejection of advances is accompanied by decisions concerning your employment, such as termination or demotion. Sexual harassment under state law also occurs when the unwanted sexual comments or requests substantially interfere with your job or create a hostile work environment.
Under federal law, sexual harassment is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law, unlike the Connecticut State law, does not specifically define sexual harassment. Instead, it prohibits discrimination based on national origin, sex, religion color, or race, and considers sexual harassment a form of sex discrimination. Title VII makes it illegal for a supervisor / boss, client, or coworker to make unwanted sexual advances, either verbally, electronically, or physically.
What most people don’t understand is that one inappropriate email, comment, or joke is not enough to constitute “sexual harassment” under Connecticut law. The sexual harassment must be pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment. And if you cannot prove that you complained of or reported the sexual harassment to your employer, then you may be accused of condoning or encouraging it. So, if you are a victim of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, or retaliation for reporting sexual harassment in Connecticut, then you should contact a sexual harassment lawyer to take action and protect your job.
Ability to Sue an Employer or Supervisor
You can sue your boss or supervisor for inappropriate or sexually explicit e-mails, text messages, Facebook messages, or other social media messages, especially if they do not stop sending such messages after you have complained to your employer’s human resources department, or you complained to your boss directly. Sexual harassment does not need to take place face to face, nor does it need to take place in the office. As the best Connecticut attorneys experienced in sexual harassment cases appreciate, if your boss or supervisor is texting you at midnight, or emailing you to meet up for drinks, or sending you selfies, then these communications and texts, if unsolicited, can constitute sexual harassment. Additionally, if your boss has the ability to see your photos on social media websites or apps, this does not give him the right to comment on your breasts, legs or other parts of your body. Any top Stamford, Norwalk or Greenwich attorney can explain that unwanted comments by your boss of a sexual nature concerning your bathing suit photos are not compliments; rather, it can be sexual harassment, and may be actionable in court.
What to do If You Are Sexually Harassed
What the best Connecticut sexual harassment attorneys routinely urge their clients to do is (1) document and preserve the harassment (whether it is digital, verbal or written) and (2) report the harassment to your supervisor and your human resources department, keeping a paper trail and file of all of your communications with them. Too often human resources departments in Connecticut will try and sweep complaints of sexual harassment under the rug, especially if you are making complaints about a well-regarded executive, or an employee who generates a lot of revenue for the company. While reporting the sexual harassment is clearly the most prudent thing to do, top Connecticut sexual harassment lawyers have seen cases where a company actually demotes and retaliates against an employee for reporting sexual harassment. This kind of misconduct gives you an event stronger case of sexual harassment and illegal workplace retaliation. If you are feeling helpless, then definitely contact a top local attorney who can help you put an end to the sexual harassment / hostile work environment.
Is Having Sex with My Boss or Supervisor Illegal?
Here’s where sexual harassment cases get trickier. Having consensual sexual relations with your supervisor or your boss is completely legal, unless it is consented to under duress or threats to your employment. What top Connecticut sexual harassment lawyers see frequently, however, is sexual harassment cases that stem from breakups of these consensual relationships. Usually, the boss or supervisor cannot let the relationship go, and consequently, he or she will retaliate and sexually harass the employee who broke up with them. If your supervisor or boss begins to link your employment terms to your sexual relationship with them, by issuing threats against your job or engaging in adverse employment actions when you do not agree to his sexual advances, then this is illegal sexual harassment. An example of this is “if you do not go out with me, then I will not give you a bonus.” So if you get demoted, transferred, or fired in Connecticut by a boss or supervisor with whom you have had a sexual relationship (or whose advances you turned down), then you should contact a top Greenwich, Stamford or Norwalk sexual harassment lawyer.
Handling Retaliation From Sexual Harassment
The best Connecticut sexual harassment representatives would agree: if you have reported sexual harassment in Connecticut to human resources or your supervisor, and were then subjected to an adverse employment action such as termination, demotion or an unwanted transfer, then this too is sexual harassment. Any top Norwalk, Stamford or Greenwich sexual harassment attorney knows that your employer cannot retaliate against you for making complaints about unwanted sexual advances at your job. Most established and reputable companies maintain anti-sexual harassment polices and investigative procedures that they are required to follow when an accusation of sexual harassment is made within the company. In these cases, the employer’s duty to follow these investigative protocols is a contractual obligation the employer owes to you and, if not followed, could be grounds for a breach of contract lawsuit you may bring against your company. State, city and federal employers in Connecticut have much more rigorous sexual harassment investigation rules that they are required to follow. So if you are an employee of the State of Connecticut and have been sexually harassed, or if you have been sexually harassed as an employee of the Towns of Greenwich, Darien or New Canaan, or have been sexually harassed as an employee of the Cities of Norwalk, Stamford, or Bridgeport, then you should talk to a union representative as well as a top sexual harassment lawyer.
The First Steps to Suing Your Employer
Complaints for sexual harassment must first go through a parallel state and federal screening process. All sexual harassment complaints are first filed with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (the “CCHRO”) and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”), which both impose strict deadlines to file complaints. The best attorneys know that to bring a suit against a Connecticut employer for sexual harassment or retaliation, you must file your complaint with the CCHRO within 180 days of the adverse employment action. Your sexual harassment case must first pass muster with the CCHRO and these agencies must determine that there is reasonable cause for you to bring your sexual harassment case to the Connecticut state or federal courts. It is a complicated process that has a lot of moving parts, so top Stamford, Norwalk and Westport sexual harassment labor lawyers and attorneys suggest consulting with them prior to filing your CCHRO administrative complaint for sexual harassment.
Contact a Connecticut Sexual Harassment Lawyer at Mark Sherman Law Today
Sexual harassment in Stamford, Greenwich, Westport, or anywhere in Connecticut is not only offensive and degrading, but it is also detrimental to your career. If not handled properly, it has the potential to leave you jobless and blacklisted in your industry. The team of labor and employment attorneys and lawyers at Mark Sherman Law have years of experience handling extremely sensitive sexual harassment matters at both the state and federal levels in Connecticut and New York. Whether it is a Fortune 500 company or a small business, we will go after them. So, if you are a victim of sexual harassment in Connecticut or New York or have suffered an adverse employment action because you complained of and reported the sexual harassment, then you should contact a Connecticut sexual harassment lawyer at Mark Sherman Law today to discuss your options. We are interested in one thing only: the best result possible—whether that is stopping the harassment, getting your job back, or getting you adequately compensated (be it in the thousands or millions of dollars, depending on your case circumstances) for the pain, suffering and humiliation you suffered.