Sexual Harassment in West Virginia

Charleston attorneys representing victims of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can make the workplace unbearable and is against the law. Even so, it remains a pervasive problem in work environments. Many who engage in sexual harassment believe they are above the law or simply do not care. Others believe their conduct is harmless, or even funny. However, sexual harassment is an extremely serious matter and should not be tolerated. If you have encountered sexual harassment in the workplace, the experienced attorneys at Calwell Luce diTrapano PLLC can help you recover damages and other relief from the person engaging in harassing behaviors as well as the organization which failed to protect you from such illegal conduct.

Types of sexual harassment

There are two primary categories of sexual harassment -- quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment.

Quid pro quo harassment: When a supervisor or manager indicates that a decision about the victim’s job position depends on acquiescing to a sexual advance. Examples of quid pro quo harassment include:

  • losing a job opportunity or being fired after refusing to date a coworker or to engage in sexual activity;
  • being demoted or passed over for promotion after rebuffing sexual advances; or
  • other decisions about your employment which depend on whether a supervisor receives something in return.

Hostile work environment: In order to prevail in a case regarding hostile work environment, the conduct:

  • must be unwelcome;
  • is either intimidating, hostile, or offensive;
  • is due to the victim’s gender; and/or
  • must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to “alter the plaintiff's conditions of employment and create an abusive work environment.” A single act that is severe enough can be sufficient to create a hostile work environment and support legal action against a coworker or an employer. Often, however, a hostile work environment is shown from a series of acts.

Sexually harassing behavior can take many forms, including:

  • comments or jokes that are sexually offensive;
  • undesired touching;
  • displaying pornography;
  • inappropriate or suggestive gestures;
  • discussions or comments about someone’s body; or
  • trying to coerce sexual activity from another person.

Your workplace has a duty to protect you from harassment

You have the right to be free from sexual harassment, and your workplace has a duty to protect you from it. Importantly, there is no requirement that you complain to superiors if the perpetrator is in a supervisory role or has authority over you at work. In such cases, a company or organization can be found liable even if you do not first report it.

In contrast, if the harassment is from a coworker with no authority over you, organizations can be held liable if it can be shown that the employer knew, or should have known, about the coworker’s misconduct. Therefore, if you are subjected to inappropriate conduct by a coworker, it is recommended that you report the coworker to a person in authority. After all, you have a protected right to complain about sexual harassment in the workplace as well as freedom from retaliation. Any retaliation against you for reporting sexual harassment may also form an entirely separate basis for a lawsuit against an employer. In addition, others who face retaliation just for helping you in this process may also have a cause of action.

Recourse available for victims of sexual harassment

The Employment Law attorneys at Calwell Luce diTrapano PLLC can seek different types of relief on behalf of a victim of sexual harassment, including:

  • a financial award;
  • getting your job back if you were fired or forced to leave; and/or
  • changes in your workplace conditions.

Contact our knowledgeable attorneys for help

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, take steps to understand your legal rights. Contact Calwell Luce diTrapano PLLC today for a free consultation at 304-400-6558 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.