Sexual Harassment Lawyers, Miami
Sexual Harassment Attorneys in Miami
You go to work expecting to be able to perform your job, to be treated fairly and respected, and to deal with the “normal” stresses of working. Unfortunately, not everyone and not every employer shares this view, and some either tolerate or create a culture of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is a broad concept and includes various activities that can occur inside the office, at work events/functions, and even outside the workplace. The specific acts or utterances that amount to harassment of this nature could sometimes be subjective. But, victims often share a common emotion; the feeling of helplessness.
Your colleague or boss may make you uncomfortable by soliciting sexual favors, touching you inappropriately, asking you to get drinks or dinner, or sending you nude or sexually suggestive images. For fear of losing your job or alienating yourself, you might be hesitant to speak up in such circumstances.
For those who build up enough confidence to stand up for themselves, our laws prohibit sexual harassment and allow victims of sexual harassment to take action. If you or someone else encounters any form of sexual harassment at work, then it is imperative to seek help from experienced sexual harassment lawyers for legal representation. In cases involving sexual harassment (and gender discrimination), FairLaw Firm is your go-to law firm.
Sexual Harassment in Florida
Sexual harassment is a form of sex/gender discrimination. Sexual harassment in Florida is governed by federal laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and state laws made by the Florida legislature, such as the Florida Civil Rights Act.
Under these civil rights Acts, harassment that is of a sexual nature is considered a form of sex discrimination and could lead to civil liability if the victim files a suit in court.
In order to pursue a claim for sexual harassment (or sex discrimination), victims must first pursue a claim through the appropriate administrative agency. One of these agencies is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that performs several functions, including investigating sexual harassment allegations. If you’re dealing with sexual harassment from your employer, you’ll likely have to file a Charge of Discrimination with this agency at some point, either personally or through your attorney.
The Florida Civil Rights Act also recognizes sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination. Florida state law governs cases of sexual harassment not covered by federal law. For further clarification, you might want to discuss this with your lawyer.
What Qualifies As Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment can occur in different forms, whether verbal, physical, digital, or non-verbal. Workplace sexual harassment does not necessarily have to occur at work. It can occur at work events, functions, and even outside work. Regardless of how or where it occurs, the behavior has to be unwelcome – meaning that the person being sexually harassed did not invite or want that type of attention.
An act of sexual harassment must be severe and persistent rather than an isolated comment or instance of teasing. Whenever an act or series of acts are so severe or frequent that they change the dynamics of the workplace, they may become illegal.
Harassment occurs not only between members of different sexes but also between employees of the same sex. The perpetrators can hold any position in the workplace, and it doesn’t matter if they intend to harass you or not.
Common Examples of Sexual Harassment
Actual or attempted rape or sexual assault
Being pressured to go on a date or to have sex
Being touched, held, or grabbed
Receipt of emails, text messages, WhatsApp messages, or direct messages
Unwanted telephone calls
Unwanted messages containing explicit sexual images or pictures of body parts
Questions about sexual fantasies
Obscene sexual gestures or expressions.
What to Do if You Are Dealing With Sexual Harassment
You do not have to wait until someone touches you inappropriately to bring a claim for sexual harassment. If you believe you were or are the victim of sexual harassment at work, here are some steps you could take:
If you can, make notes about what happened, when, and the names (and positions) of the people involved. You can do this by sending emails to yourself, on a notes app on your phone, or with pen and paper. Be as descriptive as you can in your notes, and put down the date (time, if possible) and names of the people involved. Also, include how you felt because of the sexual harassment. If your case goes to trial, it could be years before a judge or jury hears your story. Since memories fade over time, you will be happy later on that you have these great notes.
Save All Digital Information
Cases are often won or lost based on digital information. If you receive text messages, DMs, pictures, or anything through your phone (or computer) from the perpetrator, ensure that you save the information. Take screenshots of text messages, copy or download the transcripts of conversations, and save emails that contain any evidence – good or bad. Before you change any device, such as a phone or computer, make sure that you back up and then transfer the information to your new device. The more digital evidence you have now, the better for your case later.
Under most circumstances, employees are required to notify their employer when they have been harassed at work. Victims of sexual harassment at work ought to document the sexual harassment complaint by notifying the employer – preferably in writing through an email or message. Even if you speak or meet with HR, you should follow up with an email or a message after that discussion. Employers who are not told about harassment can often defend themselves by claiming that they were unaware that anything improper had occurred. So they could not do anything to prevent or stop the harassment.
This step could prove problematic when the perpetrator is your employer. In that case, you need to contact your attorney immediately. Our experienced attorneys at FairLaw Firm may be able to help you come up with a suitable strategy and determine how best to proceed in your particular situation.
File a Charge of Discrimination
The law requires that victims of sexual harassment file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Florida Commission on Human Relations if they intend to file a lawsuit.
The deadline for filing a Charge of Discrimination varies and can be as soon as 180 days or as long as 300 days from the date of the harassment.
Once a Charge of Discrimination is filed, the EEOC (or the corresponding Florida state/local agency) could encourage mediation between the parties or proceed to investigate the charge. The EEOC will conduct a mediation to try and settle a sexual harassment claim only when both sides agree to mediate.
The investigation process can include asking for documents, interviewing witnesses, and asking the employer to provide a written response to the Charge of Discrimination (called a “Position Statement”). If the EEOC does not make a decision within 180 days after receiving a Charge of Discrimination for sexual harassment, then a victim of sexual harassment can ask the EEOC to permit them to file a lawsuit.
Once the EEOC completes its investigation and reaches a decision, the victim will have only 90 days to file a sexual harassment lawsuit based on federal law in court or as little as 1 year to file a sexual harassment lawsuit under Florida state law in court.
How Miami Sexual Harassment Lawyers Can Help You
Making a claim for sexual harassment is a complicated process, especially considering the federal and state laws that apply, the deadlines that you must comply with, and the potential pitfalls that doom many cases. There are strict timelines that apply in which specific information must be provided in writing. Therefore, it is vital to have a team of experienced legal professionals on your side.
A Miami sexual harassment lawyer can advise you on whether or not you have a good case under the law and help you determine an appropriate course of action. Your lawyer can also represent you in all the stages of your case and could help you communicate with the relevant parties and government agencies.
Having the best possible legal representation is essential. It goes a long way to relieve your stress and anxiety, knowing that you don’t have to face your harasser alone anymore and that you have attorneys who will talk with you about your situation on a confidential basis and who are willing to fight for your rights on your side. So, if you’re wondering how to proceed with your sexual harassment case, then contact FairLaw Firm as soon as possible to get started.
Get Help With Your Miami Sexual Harassment Case From FairLaw Firm
If you have further questions about your Miami sexual harassment case or you are seeking legal representation, then contact the attorneys at FairLaw Firm.
Over the years, our employment lawyers have gathered significant experience with handling sexual harassment claims through the administrative (EEOC) process, in the Florida state and federal courts, and in arbitrations. We understand the relevant laws and can guide you through the legal process to help you obtain the results you deserve.
Our employer representation lawyers also counsel employers and help them create handbooks and policy manuals that could help them avoid liability for work-related harassment and other negative incidents. We also represent employers in sexual harassment claims after they have received a demand letter, a letter from an investigating agency, or a lawsuit.
As soon as you hire FairLaw Firm to represent you, you will receive regular updates, so you know what is happening with your claim and so that you can make informed decisions about whether to settle your claim or to take it to trial.
We handle most sexual harassment claims on contingency, which means that we become your minority partner in your claim. Since you are the majority partner, it is always your decision whether to settle, when, and how much, or if you would like to take your case to trial.
Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case. Let us help you find closure.
Frequently Asked Questions on Sexual Harassment
Is Workplace Sexual Harassment Difficult to Prove?
Sexual harassment can be subtle and could be challenging to prove. However, harassment often thrives in silence, so it is essential to speak up as soon as possible before the situation degenerates further. You should document each instance of harassment privately by making detailed notes, as suggested earlier in this piece. Your personal notes will help you identify the specifics of what happened and then, later on in the process, help you prove your case.
Is Sexual Harassment a Criminal Offence?
Sexual harassment generally is not a criminal offense in Florida. However, the specific acts complained of could amount to criminal offenses depending on the circumstances. For instance, unwanted fondling or touching in the workplace could amount to both sexual harassment and sexual assault. In such an instance, the victim can pursue both criminal and civil remedies to the extent permitted by the law.