Sexual Harassment at Work...
I am a female employee. While at work a male co-worker came up from behind me and forcefully slapped my butt and stated, "Buns of steel". This was not a slight tap or a light grab and it did cause pain. It was witnessed by another co-worker.
When I tried to confront him he ran away. I brought this to my supervisor's attention and they confirmed with the other co-worker that this event did happen. The slapper was placed on 2 days probation and has since returned to work.
I am now fearful every time I go to work that this may happen again. My work performance has decreased and I am an emotional wreck. He and I have never had any past physical history. Is this considered sexual harassment or assault? What do you think I should do? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Sexual Harassment at Work...":
Lisa (Canton, Michigan):
Sexual harassment occurs when someone makes you think you'll get in trouble or lose your job, or be discriminated against in obtaining or benefiting from public accommodations, public services, employment, education, or housing, if you do not give in to their sexual advances or put up with their sexual remarks.
Here is what you should do:
First, be sure that the harasser knows you do not welcome these advances. State your objections clearly when it first begins, don't just hope the problem will go away.
If the harassment continues, don't keep it to yourself. Put your objections in writing and ask for a written reply. Talk to your co-workers and tell them what is happening to you. Ask if they have had similar problems with your harasser. Keep notes on when your problem occurred and what you did and said. You may need these notes if you have to go to court.
If initial efforts fail, go higher. Use your grievance procedure, if any, or write to your supervisor's supervisor. Ask for written answers to your complaints.
If your union steward or other grievance taker shrugs off your complaint or says it is not a "grievance," do not become discouraged and drop your complaint. Go higher and exercise every right to appeal. Under the National Labor Relations Act section on the duty of fair representation, your union has the duty to represent you on issues of sexual harassment.
The State of Michigan has its own law specifically defining Sexual Harassment.
Definition of Sex Harassment:
Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act 453 of 1976 as Amended by Public Act 202 of 1980:
Sec 103(h) Discrimination because of sex includes sexual harassment which means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when:
(i) Submission to such conduct or communication is made a term or condition either explicitly or implicitly to obtain employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing.
(ii) Submission to or rejection of such conduct or communication by an individual is used as a factor in decisions affecting such individual's employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing.
(iii) Such conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, public accommodations, public services, education, or housing environment.
Here is the number to call if you need further assistance.
Michigan Department of Civil Rights: (800) 482-3604
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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