Sexual Harassment ATTORNEY in Portland, Oregon
Fighting Against Sexual Harassment in Oregon
Kevin A. Jones is an experienced Portland, Oregon sexual harassment lawyer who believes employees should be able to go to work without having to tolerate sexual harassment. Dealing with a sexually hostile work environment can make your life miserable, but you don’t have to stand for it. You may be feeling frustrated, confused, or concerned about possible repercussions if you speak up. If this sounds familiar to you, an experienced Portland employment attorney can give you strategic legal advice to help you find a satisfactory resolution, and, if necessary, prosecute employers who fail to follow the sexual harassment laws.
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Sexual Harassment Is Still A Common Problem In The Workplace
Your employer has a legal obligation to provide you with a workplace that is free from sexual harassment. But despite this legal requirement, statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reveal that sexual harassment is still common in the workplace. In the last decade, well over 100,000 employees filed formal complaints with the EEOC for sex-based harassment. Thousands more are filed every year with state agencies like the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (“BOLI”).
While sexual harassment can affect both sexes, studies show that women are most affected by illegal sexual harassment. One recent EEOC study found that 60-75% of women have experienced unwanted sexual attention, sexually crude behavior, or sexist comments in the workplace.
Recent scandals involving high-profile figures have brought much-needed attention to the sexual harassment problem that remains in our society. But the statistics show that there is still much work to be done, and fixing the problem will take courageous women (and men) to confront sexual harassment when they see it in the workplace.
If you have been sexually harassed at work and need someone on your side, Kevin is an experienced Portland sexual harassment lawyer who can provide you with guidance to ensure your legal rights are protected. Call our law office if you have any questions. We would be happy to help you navigate these difficult situations, and we will give you a free evaluation of your legal rights.
How Sexual Harassment Can Affect You
Working in a sexually hostile work environment can have a profound impact on both your professional and personal life. At work, sexual harassment is demoralizing and can negatively affect your job performance, job satisfaction, career growth, and relationships with co-workers. When employees lose their jobs due to sexual harassment, the financial costs to the victims can be severe and long-lasting.
Sexual harassment can also wreak havoc on a victims’ emotional and mental health. Victims of sexual harassment often report feelings of insecurity, debilitating stress, panic attacks, decreased self-confidence, and loss of self-esteem. The trauma from sexual harassment may lead to serious mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Sexual harassment can also cause unpleasant physical symptoms, ranging from headaches, fatigue, high blood pressure, weight gain, and gastrointestinal problem. Allowing these conditions to persist can lead to serious health conditions in the long-term.
The best way to avoid the adverse consequences of sexual harassment is to make it stop. If you feel like your work environment has gotten out of control and don’t know what to do about it, give us a call and we can discuss your options. Kevin is an experienced sexual harassment attorney in Portland, Oregon and can point you in the right direction.
Types of Sexual Harassment Cases
There are two common types of sexual harassment cases, which differ based on the type of conduct at issue:
1) Quid-pro-quo harassment – “Quid pro quo” is a Latin phrase that means “this for that.” Quid pro quo harassment occurs when someone above you asks for sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits. The classic case of quid pro quo sexual harassment is when a supervisor threatens to fire or demote an employee if the employee does not provide sexual favors. More often, however, the demand for sex is implicit. In one case we handled, an employee was on medical leave and her supervisor said he could only hold her job open for her if she “took care of” him sexually.
2) Hostile work environment – Sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment when the unwelcome conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an intimidating, demeaning, or abusive working environment. The key is that the conduct must be unwelcome and non-consensual. It does not have to involve a job loss or demotion, but it must be frequent or severe enough that ordinary people would consider it an abusive environment. Common examples of conduct that may create a sexually hostile work environment include sexual remarks, obscene jokes, sexual invitations, touching, groping, and invading your personal space. However, the behavior does not have to be – and often is not – overtly “sexual” in the ordinary sense of the word. Any harassing behavior based on your sex can contribute to an illegal hostile work environment. Sometimes that can simply be treating you differently than someone of the opposite sex.
Do I Have a Sexual Harassment Case?
Sexual harassment can take a variety of forms, and sometimes it can be hard to recognize. If you have experienced any of the conduct listed below, you should consult an experienced employment lawyer in Portland, Oregon who specializes in sexual harassment cases:
- Questions about your sex life
- Sexual innuendo
- Inappropriate text messages or “sexting”
- Indecent exposure
- Stories about sexual exploits
- “Accidental” touching
- Sexually explicit gestures
- Unwelcome hugs
- Comments about your body
- Physical touching or assault
- Sexist jokes
- Pornographic videos and pictures
- Inappropriate gifts (sex toys, lingerie)
- Invasion of your personal space
- Requests to wear revealing clothes
- Requests for nude pictures
- Discussing sexual fantasies
- Coerced sexual favors
How to Prove Sexual Harassment
There are not always witnesses to sexual harassment. To avoid embarrassment or getting caught, most perpetrators of sexual harassment will make their “moves” behind closed doors when no one else is around. They think they won’t get in trouble if it is just a he-said, she-said situation. But they are wrong.
Most cases of sexual harassment do not involve direct eyewitnesses. In these situations, there are usually two different sides of the story – yours and your harasser’s. But you should not be deterred simply because the harasser denies any wrongdoing. A skilled sexual harassment attorney can help you build your case through “circumstantial” evidence and prove that your side of the story is the truth.
For your part, you can ensure that important evidence is preserved. If you have explicit text messages, social media messages, or emails sent from someone harassing you, you should take immediate steps to save those messages before they are lost or deleted. You can either print or screenshot these messages and store them in a safe place. There are also tools and apps available that can retrieve the messages from your phone or other device. If you have an Android phone, you can download the use the “DroidTransfer” app to transfer messages from your phone to your computer. We have also used “iExplorer” and “TouchCopy” to pull messages from iPhones. In either case, you should save the messages to the cloud so you will still have them if your computer is lost or destroyed.
You should also document the sexual harassment as soon as it begins. Even if you don’t think much of it at first, you should still document it in case things get worse. These notes are more important than people realize. Harassment is not usually a one-time event, but rather occurs sporadically over a series of weeks, months, or years. The cumulative effect of the ongoing harassment is what creates a hostile work environment. Your ability to describe in detail how the work environment became hostile and abusive is what makes your case convincing. Taking notes will help you remember important events and details that you would have otherwise forgotten.
There are a number of ways to document sexual harassment, and you should do whatever is easiest and most convenient for you. We’ve had clients keep a handwritten journal, take notes on their cell phone, or send themselves emails each time something happened. When you are making notes about the offensive conduct, try to follow the “five W’s” that journalists use in writing a story – include names of Who was involved, a description of What happened, When it happened, Where it happened, and Why it happened. You should also document how the harassment made you feel. These details will be important for your attorney to know in evaluating your sexual harassment case.
What To Do If You Are Being Sexually Harassed At Work
The most effective way to stop sexual harassment is to expose it. Those who ignore sexual harassment and hope it goes away on its own send the wrong message that sexual harassment is okay. The problems will only get worse.
If you are going to confront sexual harassment – and you should – it is important to go about it in the right way. Although every case is different, below are some general guidelines on ways you can stand up for yourself. An experienced sexual harassment lawyer can tell you the best approach for your particular case.
1) Confront your harasser – Sometimes you can get the behavior to stop with a direct conversation. Let the person harassing you know that his/her behavior is making you uncomfortable. If they have expressed a desire for a romantic relationship, you can tell them you don’t date people at work, or you would like to keep your relationship professional. Setting some boundaries can send a clear message to back off and that you won’t be bullied. Direct confrontation can seem intimidating and risky, but it is often better than the alternative of letting the situation grow progressively worse.
2) Report the behavior – If you are uncomfortable with confronting your harasser, or that hasn’t worked, you should also make the company aware of the problem. This is typically done by approaching someone in management. Your company may have a sexual harassment reporting procedure in an employee handbook. If so, you should follow those steps to ensure your concerns are properly reported. But at the very least, let someone in management know. The company will then have an obligation to respond to your concerns.
It is important to understand that you are protected from retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. However, to ensure you are protected, it is best to document your sexual harassment concerns in writing. If you are reporting the problem to a manager or HR, we suggest making your complaint in an email so everyone has a copy and there is no dispute about who received it or when it was received. When you are making your complaint, it is important to tell the company you are reporting “sexual harassment” or you might not be legally protected.
3) File a complaint with BOLI or EEOC – If your company doesn’t correct the problem or blows off your concerns, you also have the option of filing a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Both government agencies are responsible for investigating sexual harassment complaints. BOLI investigates complaints under Oregon state law, whereas the EEOC investigates complaints under federal statutes. Be forewarned, however, that going through this process without an attorney can make it more difficult to bring a legal claim later. We suggest consulting with a contingency-fee employment lawyer to help you navigate this process.
4) Legal action – If all else fails, you have the option of hiring an employment lawyer to help you bring a lawsuit for sexual harassment. Your lawyer will file the appropriate paperwork, investigate your claims, locate witnesses and documentation, and present your case before a jury of your peers. A jury can award you compensation for your economic losses and emotional suffering, and can assess punitive damages to punish the defendant for its illegal conduct. Most cases resolve by settlement before reaching trial, but we do not suggest filing a lawsuit unless you are prepared to take your case to court.
Contact Our Oregon Sexual Harassment Lawyer for Free Advice
Kevin has helped many women, and even a few men, confront and overcome sexual harassment at work. He can help you protect your rights and hold those accountable who have created a hostile or abusive work environment. If you are suffering from sexual harassment, Kevin is on your side and would be happy talk to you and explain your legal rights. Give him a call today and he will do his best to help you out.
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Why Choose Kevin?
Kevin offers a free, no-obligation consultation to people who have potential cases within his practice areas. During your consultation, Kevin will review your situation, answer your questions, and discuss your legal options.
In his first decade of experience, Kevin has tried and argued more cases in court than most attorneys have in their entire careers.
When you hire Kevin, you get Kevin. Not a paralegal, case manager, or a lawyer fresh out of law school. Kevin limits the number of cases he takes so he can give his clients the attention they deserve.
No Recovery = No Fee
Kevin takes cases on a “contingency” basis, meaning you only pay for his legal services if he succeeds in obtaining a verdict or settlement for you.
Book a free consultation!
Kevin A. Jones offers a free, no-obligation consultation to any person facing a legal problem. During your call, Kevin will review your situation, answer your questions, and inform you of your legal rights.