Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Lawyer in Columbia, SC

Sexual harassment is far more than just a poor managerial practice and terrible employee management. It is strictly prohibited under federal and South Carolina law.

If you have become a sexual harassment victim, you can and should take legal action. However, given the sensitivity of the situation, and your employer’s relentless desire to protect themselves at all costs, you need help from an experienced attorney.

The professionals at the Shealey Law Firm can help you get justice when you have been treated illegally at your workplace. Call our Columbia law office today to discuss your legal options.

Federal and South Carolina Laws About Sexual Harassment

The main federal law that prohibits sexual harassment is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law states that an employer cannot make a distinction, or treat persons differently based on their race, color, national origin, sex, or religion.

One prohibited practice is subjecting an employee to a hostile work environment based on their membership in a protected class, and gender is one of them.

According to federal regulations, sexual harassment can take on the following forms:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
  • Conditioning employee benefits, employment or any other employment action on the employee providing sexual favors

Sexual harassment is also illegal under South Carolina law. The state’s law is very similar in scope to Title VII. Thus, if you have been a victim of sexual harassment, you can file a lawsuit in federal or state court, after you go through the proper channels.

Examples of Illegal Sexual Harassment

Both managers and fellow employees can commit sexual harassment under federal law. Harassment can result from direct actions towards you or the overall environment that you deal with at work (even one single incident can be harassment if it is bad enough). Regardless of how it happens, you can hold your employer responsible for the conduct.

Here are some behaviors that would be illegal conduct by your employer under federal and state law:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances towards an employee or coworker
  • Sexual jokes, directly to or around an employee
  • An overall hostile environment in the office, where employees openly joke or talk about sexual topics
  • Threatening to fire (or actually firing) an employee who does not provide sexual favors upon demand
  • Excessively commenting on someone’s appearance
  • Sending sexually explicit photos, texts or emails to an employee
  • Exposing one’s self to someone else
  • Discussing one’s sexual exploits to or around someone

Sexual harassment is not exclusive towards one gender. Both men and women can be victims of harassment. Sexual harassment can even be conduct towards someone of the same gender.

Retaliation is also a form of sexual harassment. If you have complained or brought certain conduct to your manager’s or employer’s attention, they cannot take any action against you, such as:

  • Terminating you
  • Denying you a promotion
  • Giving you a worse performance review than they otherwise would have

Potential Sexual Harassment Claims for Illegal Conduct

If you believe that someone has broken the law, you should have a conversation with an attorney to see if what you have experienced was illegal. Some instances of conduct would require a repeated pattern of conduct to be illegal, while other acts could be sexual harassment the first time that it happened. Everything depends on the facts and circumstances of what you have endured. There are some things that may have made you uncomfortable that could cross a line and are illegal.

If your employer has broken the law, you can file a lawsuit for financial compensation. If you can prove illegal action, you could be entitled to the following damages:

  • Compensatory damages for the financial losses that you have suffered, including lost wages and any reduction in your earnings capacity
  • Emotional distress damages for the suffering that you have endured because of your employer’s conduct
  • Other economic damages to pay for the cost of treating you, if you suffered any physical or emotional harm from the conduct
  • Potential punitive damages, if the employer’s conduct was egregious and warrants the jury taking action (when you hear of verdicts for millions of dollars, much of the award is punitive damages)

If you have a potential claim, there are numerous steps that you need to take before you could receive financial compensation. Initially, you should speak with an experienced attorney who can handle claims involving sexual harassment in the workplace.

Your lawyer can help you do the following about what happened:

  • Advise on how to speak to your employer to bring the matter to their attention
  • File a claim on your behalf with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission or the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (you must do this before you can go to court)
  • File a lawsuit if the government does not accept your claim to advance on your behalf

Your employer may or may not take you seriously if you report illegal conduct. When you hire an experienced sexual harassment attorney, your employer will have to take notice.

FAQs About Sexual Harassment Claims

When should I call a lawyer after experiencing sexual harassment?

You should seek legal help as soon as you have been the victim of harassment, even the first time that it has happened.

Can I go directly to court?

You need to go through the federal or state government first, but they can tell you that you could file a lawsuit.

Will I need to pay if I do not win my case?

No; we work on a contingency basis, meaning that you do not pay if you do not win.

Contact a Columbia Lawyer About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

You need a powerful advocate to stand up to a powerful employer. Unfortunately for them, they do not have the power that they think when their conduct was illegal. The attorneys at Shealey Law Firm can help you fight for justice when you have been wronged.

We can take on employers of all sizes. Call us today at 803-590-3917 or fill out an online contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.


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