Sex Discrimination / Sexual Harassment

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It is inconceivable to think that in this day and age employers continue to treat women unequally in the workplace.  Unfortunately, sexual harassment and discrimination run rampant in businesses across the state and beyond.

It is unlawful for an employer to fail to hire, to discharge, or to otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his or her compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment on the basis of sex.

Sex discrimination can come in a number of forms (e.g., gender-based and pregnancy); however, perhaps the most common workplace issue facing women today (and in some cases men) is sexual harassment.  A sexual harassment claim may be brought under two theories: “quid pro quo” and/or “hostile work environment.”

Quid pro quo (“this for that”) sexual harassment occurs when an individual is in a position to offer tangible job benefits in exchange for sexual favors or, alternatively, to threaten job injury for failure to submit.  To establish a claim of quid pro quo harassment, the employee must demonstrate (1) that he or she was subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct or communication, and (2) that her employer used her submission to or rejection of the sexual advances as a factor in a decision affecting her employment.  Unwelcome sexual advances may include flirting, touching, kissing, requests for intimate encounters, etc.  They may be done in person or by phone, text message, email or instant messenger.  However, mere sexual conduct that is not directed at an employee with the express or implied intent to fulfill a sexual proposition does not give rise to quid pro quo harassment; however, it may create a hostile work environment claim.

Because most people are inherently aware that it is wrong or unlawful to sexually proposition an employee, the more prevalent form of sexual harassment is the creation of a “hostile work environment.”  The Michigan Civil Rights Act requires that five necessary elements be met to establish a hostile work environment: (1) the employee belonged to a protected group (i.e., female), (2) was subject to sexual harassment, (3) did not welcome or invite the sexual harassment, (4) the harassment substantially interfered with the employee’s ability to do her job, and (5) the employer knew about it, but failed to stop itIt is very important to note that if an employee is the subject of sexual harassment, she should report it to her employer.  If the employer fails to take prompt and remedial measures to stop the harassment, the employer may be held liable.

If you have been the subject of unlawful sex discrimination or sexual harassment, you may be entitled to:

  • Lost earnings (back pay);
  • Compensation for emotional distress;
  • Punitive compensation; and
  • Attorney’s fees.

We have fought and won for victims of illegal discrimination and harassment and we will fight and win for you.  So if you have been the victim of sex discrimination or sexual harassment and you can’t afford to lose, call Moss & Colella, P.C. toll free at 1.800.MUSTWIN or at 248.945.0100.

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