Dawicke Law
Jason E. Dawicke, Attorney at Law
Dawicke Law
P.O. Box 663
Lewis Center, OH 43035

Sexual Harassment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and corresponding Ohio law not only prohibit discrimination based on immutable characteristics like sex, race, religion, and national origin, but also prohibit employers from harassing individuals because of these class characteristics. The most common form of harassment is sexual harassment.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or termination of the victim.
  • The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.
There are two forms of sexual harassment. The first, quid pro quo harassment, occurs when there is a loss of a tangible economic benefit to the employee who rejects her employer's sexual demands. For instance, an employee who rejects his or her supervisor's request for a date, and is subsequently demoted, passed over for a promotion, or fired, has a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim. Under such circumstances, the employee has no legal duty to report the harassment to anyone before bringing a lawsuit.

The second form of harassment is known as hostile work environment harassment and occurs when a victim is subjected to abusive treatment that creates an offensive or intimidating work environment. Sexually hostile work environments created by co-workers normally don't result in a tangible employment action (i.e. firing, demotion) since these co-workers lack authority to make such employment decisions. Therefore, if subjected to such co-worker abuse, the victim generally has a duty to report the harassment to a specified company representative or department (check your Employee Handbook for details, but typically this will be a manager or someone in the HR department). Failure to report a hostile work environment may result in the permanent loss of your claim.

After learning of the alleged harassment, the employer has an obligation to prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior. Failure to do so will result in liability for both the actual individual harasser(s) and the employer.

What exactly constitutes sexual harassment can be difficult to discern. While a co-worker asking you out on a date on a single occasion will not constitute sexual harassment, that same co-worker asking you out every day for two months might create a hostile work environment. In order to establish a hostile work environment claim, you must prove that you were subjected to unwelcome harassment that was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of your employment as determined by a "reasonable person".

Finally, if you were subjected to such severe or pervasive sexual harassment that you were forced to quit your job as a result, you may still have a viable hostile work environment claim if you reported the harassment to your employer while still employed, and little or nothing was done to remedy the situation. Therefore, even if you quit your job, you may still have a viable sexual harassment claim.

If you feel that you have been a victim of some form of sexual harassment, please complete and submit the following form fields:

All fields are required
Full Name:
Phone Number:
Email Address (if none, enter N/A):
Preferred Method of Contact:
Employer at Issue:
Date(s) of Harassment:
Were you fired, demoted, or passed over for a promotion as a result of rejecting your employer's sexual demands? If so, please specify.
If you were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment, did you report it to anyone? If so, when and to whom?
Please provide examples as to the sexually harassing comments and/or conduct in which you were subjected:
Submission of this form does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Upon review of your responses, I may offer to represent you. Unless and until you receive a signed letter from me confirming representation, I have not agreed to represent you. In addition, submission of this form does not relieve you from complying with all applicable statutory deadlines required for filing your claim(s) with the appropriate agency or court.