Sexual harassment laws protecting Ohio employees

Sexual harassment law protections for Ohio employeesSexual harassment happens in all kinds of workplace–offices, stores, factories, and everywhere in between. But no matter where an employee works, and no matter what they do for a living, all employees have the right to be free from sexual harassment. If it’s happening to you, understanding sexual harassment law is the first step to protecting yourself.

What do the sexual harassment laws cover?

Sexual harassment is a type of illegal sex discrimination under both federal and Ohio law. The federal law is called Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Of course that won’t protect Ohio employees who work for smaller employers. Thankfully, Ohio’s sexual harassment law applies to employers as long as they have 4 or more employees. It is found in Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of sexual harassment. The first is what’s called “quid pro quo” (which translates loosely from Latin as “something for something”). It refers to a harasser demanding sexual favors in exchange for either a job benefit (like a promotion) or avoiding a job penalty (like being fired). The other type is “hostile work environment” sexual harassment. That’s when a harasser’s sexual comments or conduct are so “severe or pervasive” that they unreasonably interfere with the employee’s ability to do her job. In the most egregious cases, sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual touching and even sexual assault.

Why you should report sexual harassment

Studies show that most people who are sexually harassed at work never report it. There are lots of understandable reasons for that. But there are even better reasons why they should.

First, the harassment will probably continue, and maybe even get worse, unless someone puts a stop to it. We have represented many Ohio employees who were sexually assaulted at work. The clear pattern in those cases is that the harassment escalated to the point of sexual assault because people saw it but didn’t take action. Aside from the serious physical harm, the emotional toll of workplace sexual assault is more than anyone should have to bear. If you or someone you care about have been the victim of workplace sexual assault, there are nonprofit organizations in Ohio dedicated to helping sexual violence victims.

The second reason to report sexual harassment is that you might not be the only victim. And you probably aren’t.  In nearly every sexual harassment case we’ve handled, there was more than one victim. If the #metoo movement has proven anything, it’s that sexual harassment is more common than many wanted to admit. Even if you are the first victim, you might be able to stop someone else from being harassed.

Lastly, both Ohio and federal sexual harassment law have strong whistleblower protection employees for who make a good-faith report of sexual harassment. Employers may not retaliate against employees for reporting sexual harassment. On the other hand, an employer might be able to avoid liability if the employee unreasonably fails to report the harassment.

Stand up for your rights and get help

We are proud to help victims of sexual harassment stand up for their rights and have their voices heard. If you’ve been sexually harassed at work, call us today.