A sexual harassment legal claim requires that the treatment be “severe and pervasive.” For employment attorneys, the work to show that the sexual harassment was severe is often to demonstrate the harassment’s interference with the employee’s work. It’s much more likely that a sexual harassment claim will result in a finding for the victim when his or her work performance is affected.
When an employee has solid evidence to show that the sexual harassment was so pervasive that it affected his or her ability to do the job, the court or the jury will often side with the employee. That’s because under the law, for a successful sexual harassment claim, the treatment may not be one isolated incident. Instead, for viable legal claim, the harassment needs to be on-going or serious enough to warrant a claim. To show the severity of the sexual emails, jokes, videos or other inappropriate conduct, the employee’s work performance is a good measure, courts have said.
Even in cases where there may not be enough evidence to demonstrate how the employee was affected at work, witnesses and family members may be able to provide important testimony about the impact of the sexual harassment. Other options to show how work was affected by harassment include performance reports, diminished productivity, increased sick days and depression.
In some sexual harassment cases, the workplace may be so hostile that they employee felt that he or she had no other chance to leave the place of employment. When this occurs, the employee should immediately consult with a knowledgeable employment law attorney to discuss the options for filing a legal claim.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “Showing Disruption of Work Is Key to Success of Harassment Cases,” Brent Kendall and Ashby Jones, 11/4/2011