Workplace self-care starts with knowing your rights. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination. Harassment and discrimination in the workplace are prohibited under federal and Florida law.
Sexual harassment is any “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature from any person directed towards or in the presence of an employee or applicant when
a. Submission to such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment;
b. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
c. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering
with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.”
Sexual harassment may include requests for sexual favors in exchange for hiring or a raise, or disciplining or firing someone because he/she ended a romantic relationship. But sexual harassment can take other forms like verbal, physical, or visual imagery.
Verbal sexual harassment could include requests for sexual favors,
sexually-related offensive language, comments, suggestions, jokes, rumors, derogatory remarks, and discriminatory remarks.
Physical behavior, such as whistling, pats, squeezes,
repeated brushing against someone’s body, groping, impeding or blocking
regular work or movement, and offensive gestures may be considered sexual harassment.
Also, visual imagery (electronic or printed) including, but not limited to, images of a sexual nature, sexually suggestive or derogatory pictures, cartoons or drawings, calendars, graffiti, emails, magazines, screen savers, and websites could all be considered sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment may occur in any of these situations.
• The victim and the harasser may be of different sexes.
• The victim and the harasser may be of the same sex.
• The harasser may be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in
another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee of the agency.
• The victim may be a person who is merely present while
another employee is subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct.
How do you address sexual harassment?
If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment, you have
the right to do any or all of the following:
• Instruct the harasser to stop the unwelcome behavior
• Report a complaint to any supervisor within your agency in writing.
• Report a complaint (in writing) to the appropriate person or office
designated by your agency to receive complaints of sexual
• Report a complaint to the Florida Commission on Human
Relations within 365 calendar days of the alleged incident.
• Report a complaint to the Federal Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission within 300 calendar days of the alleged incident.
If you choose to file a formal complaint with your agency, the
the complaint must be in writing and must include at least the
the following information
• the name and contact information of the person filing the
• the name of the person who allegedly committed the act of
• the name of the alleged victim
• a clear and concise statement of facts, including pertinent
dates, locations, witnesses and other evidence in support of
Chapter 60L-36.004, Florida Administrative Code.
Retaliation is Prohibited
The State of Florida does not tolerate retaliation against anyone
who has complained of sexual harassment or who has
participated in an investigation of alleged sexual harassment.
Chapter 60L-36.004(10), Florida Administrative Code.
If you feel you are a victim of retaliation, you may report the
incident to the appropriate office in your agency, the Florida
Commission on Human Relations, or the Federal Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission.
It is essential to be able to recount what happened regardless if you take your claim to human resources or feel you need to contact an attorney.
Keep a journal of everything that happened. The journal should include dates, locations, witnesses, and any details of each incident.
If you feel safe doing so, report ALL incidents to human resources or any supervisor. Keep a written copy of the documented complaint to prevent faulty recollection or outright denial in the future.
When you report an incident to your employer, ask them for help! Allow your employer to fix the problem. If the employer does not know what the problem is, they will not be able to help you. You must communicate details about the incident to your employer.
Keep a log of how the events or conduct affected you. If the situation has caused you to experience sleep deprivation, lack of the ability to focus, anxiety, depression, or other physical or mental issues, seek out help from a medical doctor or counselor. Inform your employer that you are seeking professional advice.
Sexual harassment at your place of work is often challenging and difficult to handle.
Call the lawyers at Serrano Law for a free consultation and evaluation. We can assess the situation and help you navigate towards a resolution.