What you need to know about sexual harassment law and personal injury

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Sexual Harassment in Utah is a real thing. Sexual Harassment exists in the Utah workplace under Utah Employment law. Sexual Harassment also exists in Utah schools and Universities. Sexual Harassment also ocurrs in social settings, including church settings and other situations outside of the workplace and schools.

Sexual Harassment is a broad term and can mean a lot of things. Under Utah and other applicable Sexual Harassment Law definition and meaning of the term “Harassment” under Utah Employment Law and Civil Rights law is generally unwanted actions and workplace conditions that are “severe and pervasive.”

Such a severe and pervasive environment under sexual harassment is an environment that is hostile, intimidating, offensive, oppressive or abusive. When looking at sexual harassment under a Utah Employment Law perspective, judges look at several factors of the conduct, including, the nature of the conduct, of often and over what period of time the conduct occurred, whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating.

Generally, a one-time incident of an off-color remark or joke will not be sufficient to prove sexual harassment unless depending on the context it was quite an intimidating, offensive, or abusive joke or comment.

The employment law under sexual harassment indicates if it is severe and pervasive, then it alters the terms and conditions of that persons employment.

The same definition also applies to harassment in schools and claims against schools are known as Title IX sexual harassment claims arising under Title IX of the federal law that prohibits sexual harassment in schools. In school and university settings, instead of looking at it from an employment perspective if it involves a student, it looks at it on whether or not it affected and altered the terms of the student’s right to a harassment-free education experience. Harassment in the school setting can come from another student from a school employee teacher or professor.

Sexual Harassment actions can include unwanted jokes or comments or communications about the genders of the opposite sex as well as their sexual orientation. It also includes unwanted jokes or comments about sexual intercourse or sexual activity or regarding someone’s private sex life.

The actions can also be more severe where there are actions, requests, threats or gestures about sexual activity or behavior or requests to engage in sexual activity or behavior. Thereafter, it can become more severe to unwanted inappropriate touching of an individual in a sexual manner.

It can become more severe to where there are unwanted attempts to engage in sexual activity either through force or communication or the touching and attempts of arousal of another person.

Finally, it can become most severe when there is an actual act of unwanted sexual behavior including unwanted sexual intercourse.

The keyword is “unwanted” meaning, the person does not agree with or did not feel comfortable about the situation. The defense typically is consent to the actions or claims that the individual did not indicate they were unwanted or showed through communication they were wanted behavior. In a school or workplace setting, an individual must report the inappropriate behavior to an individual that has power to change or resolve the issue to put the school or workplace on notice of the unwanted sexual harassment so they can resolve the issue. This can include the direct supervisor of the individual or the principal or dean, human resources or the Title IX EEO office on a University.

That is usually when the behavior is less severe such as unwanted jokes and comments. This is so the school or workplace has a place to investigate and resolve the issue. If the school or university and workplace improperly investigates the issue and do not properly resolve the issue or if they knew the perpetrator had a propensity of this kind of behavior prior with other individuals and did nothing to resolve it, they could be held legally liable for sexual harassment.

In the workplace setting, a company could be held legally liable without having to report the behavior if the behavior comes from someone like a supervisor.

The individual that sexually harrassed the individual can also be held legally liable for sexual harassment under civil claims even if the school or business is not legally liable.

The individual can also be held criminally liable for sexual harassment. There are criminal offenses related to sexual harassment that does not amount to any actual sexual touching. There are also criminal offenses related to unlawful sexual touching. One can also have a civil personal injury claim for sexual battery if there is any touching or anything beyond touching. Also, under the criminal code, the individual can also be held criminally liable for rape or attempted rate if there is an attempt to actual engage in sexual intercourse.

If an individual also receives a bad grade or is terminated for reporting the sexual harassment or filing a claim in the school or work setting, they could also have a claim for retaliation.

Dealing with sexual harassment can be difficult for the victims. It can be hard to come forward for many reasons, including pressure at work or at school, humiliation, not wanting to cause a scene and the anxiety and stress it can cause.

The damages an individual can receive for sexual harassment can include damages for time off work related to the harassment or termiantion including lost wages and other benefits. An individual may also recover for emotional distress if they can show the emotional distress they are suffering from was caused by the incident. The best way to prove this is a note or opinion from a medical professional such as a psychiatrist that can say that the distress stemmed from the incident.

A person may also recover for damages if there was any unwanted physical attack or touching. They can also recover if it affects their ability to work moving forward or if it affects their lifestyle and relationship with others. A person under workplace and school harassment can also recover for attorney fees and costs in pursuing a lawsuit against an individual as well as a penalty fee against the person, the school or business for the unlawful bad acts.

These cases at many times can be emotional and complex. Our Utah law firm and attorney focuses on sexual harassment cases in the workplace, at schools or universities or with churches or other originations or in other private or public settings. We know how to delicately handle these cases whether as an independent investigator or as an advocate for victims of sexual harassment. Contact our Utah Law firm for a consultation on your sexual harassment case today.

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