When at work, employees have the right to fair treatment and to do their jobs in an environment that is free from harassment and inappropriate behavior. There are both state and federal laws that shield West Virginia employees from certain types of misconduct, such as sexual harassment. Unfortunately, however, employees do sometimes experience mistreatment in their place of work, and this can include a range of inappropriate behavior that is sexual in nature.
In any form, sexual harassment is unacceptable. If you experience this type of treatment at work, you do not have to remain silent. All employers should be taking steps to make workplaces safe and appropriate for everyone, including an emphasis on sexual harassment prevention. If you believe you are a victim, you will benefit from understanding the options available to you.
Stopping it before it starts
Employers can make the effort to prevent sexual harassment by increasing awareness of the problem and making it clear that there will be no tolerance for this type of behavior. In addition to this, the following steps may be useful in stopping sexual harassment before it even begins:
- Encourage employees to say something if they see something is wrong.
- Believe employees and follow the appropriate course of action when they file complaints.
- Ensure that employees who report sexual harassment or express concerns do not experience any type of retaliation.
- Create a culture where sexual harassment has no place and where employees feel comfortable reporting incidents.
- Check in with employees who have reported sexual harassment and follow protocol to protect their rights and interests.
There is no excuse for sexual harassment in the workplace, regardless of the type of work environment. You have the right to report any harassment you experience, seeking justice for yourself and ensuring that no one else experiences the type of treatment you did.
Your rights as a victim
If you experienced sexual harassment in the workplace from a co-worker, manager or other individual, you may benefit from learning about your legal options as soon as possible after the incident. You may have grounds to pursue a claim against the perpetrator, your employer and other responsible parties. While you may feel overwhelmed, embarrassed or unsure of what to do next, you do not have to navigate this complex process alone.