Residents of the Greenbelt, Maryland, area may recall that about six months ago a former Hyattsville police officer filed a sexual harassment lawsuit accusing the police department of systemic sexual harassment. The lawsuit included allegations of sexual assault committed by a ranking officer, as well as a sexually hostile environment within the department. The former officer also charged that she was retaliated against when she complained to her supervisors about the harassment, culminating in her termination.
Victims of sexual harassment can often obtain compensation from their employers under Maryland state law or federal law. Whether the harasser was a supervisor or a co-worker, however, can greatly affect the process and outcome of these cases.
We have previously discussed the employment law issues surrounding employers here in Maryland who use Facebook to evaluate job candidates or check up on existing employees. While many states have addressed this privacy issue, some of them outlawing the practice, Facebook and other electronic communications of employees are turning up in another area of employment law--litigation.
There are certain lines of work where people can expect to encounter a fast pace, pressure and a lot of stress. Medicine is one of these areas, as is law enforcement and military service, for example. Another field that can be a confrontational place to work is politics and a recent news report suggests that Capitol Hill is becoming a more and more hostile work environment.
Sexual harassment cases do not always stem from a supervisor harassing an employee. Sometimes, a worker is being harassed by a co-worker, and his or her supervisor is doing little to stop it. In other cases, a worker might even experience sexual harassment from someone who is not a part of the place of employment--such as a customer, client or patient that is within the workplace. In these cases, the supervisor or employer is still obligated by law to take actions to stop the sexual harassment once alerted.
Sexual harassment simply has no place in today's workplace. It is illegal under federal employment law, yet still it continues to happen. Last month, a jury in Washington, D.C., made a very unusual request in an attempt to stop employers from harboring sexual harassment.
In the United States, employees are protected from sexual harassment in the workplace by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, while sexual harassment is strictly prohibited, many metro Washington, D.C., residents know that it does still happen.
State and federal laws dictate that employees may not be treated unfairly on the basis of their race, sex, age, disability or religion in the workplace. Those who experience workplace discrimination on the basis of these, or other protected classifications, have the right to file a legal claim to seek justice.