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What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that affects many employees across different industries. It is important to understand what constitutes sexual harassment to protect oneself and seek appropriate legal help if needed. A Morgantown sexual harassment lawyer can provide the necessary support and guidance for those who have experienced such harassment.

Understanding Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or intimidating work environment. It can take many forms, ranging from verbal comments to physical actions. Understanding the different types of sexual harassment is important for recognizing when it occurs.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an individual in a position of power demands sexual favors in exchange for job benefits. This can include promotions, raises, or continued employment. For example, a supervisor might imply that an employee will receive a promotion if they agree to go on a date.

Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment is created when an employee is subjected to unwelcome sexual behavior that interferes with their work performance or creates an intimidating atmosphere. This can include inappropriate jokes, comments, or physical actions. The behavior must be severe or pervasive enough to affect the employee’s work conditions.

Verbal Harassment

Verbal harassment includes unwelcome comments, jokes, or remarks about an individual’s appearance, body, or sexual orientation. This can also include sexual innuendos, propositions, or explicit language. Even if the harasser claims they were “just joking,” it can still be considered harassment if it makes the victim uncomfortable.

Non-Verbal Harassment

Non-verbal harassment involves unwelcome gestures, staring, or displaying sexually explicit materials. This can include inappropriate emails, text messages, or social media interactions. Non-verbal harassment can create a hostile work environment even if there is no direct physical contact.

Physical Harassment

Physical harassment includes unwelcome touching, hugging, kissing, or any other physical contact of a sexual nature. This type of harassment is particularly invasive and can cause significant emotional distress to the victim.

Legal Definitions and Protections

Sexual harassment is illegal under federal and state laws. The key laws that provide protection against sexual harassment include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and various state laws.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination under this law. Employers with 15 or more employees are covered by Title VII, which means they are legally obligated to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace.

West Virginia Human Rights Act

The West Virginia Human Rights Act (WVHRA) prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, blindness, or disability. Sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination under this act. The WVHRA applies to employers with 12 or more employees, which is a broader scope compared to Title VII.

Under the WVHRA, employees who believe they have been subjected to sexual harassment can file a complaint with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission (WVHRC). The WVHRC investigates complaints, attempts to resolve disputes through conciliation, and can take legal action if necessary. Filing a complaint with the WVHRC is an important step in seeking justice for workplace harassment.

The Importance of Seeking Legal Help

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, it is crucial to seek legal assistance. A Morgantown sexual harassment lawyer can help you understand your rights, gather evidence, and navigate the legal process.

Here are some reasons why seeking legal help is important:

Understanding Your Rights

A knowledgeable attorney can explain your legal rights and options. They can help you determine whether the behavior you experienced qualifies as sexual harassment under the law.

Gathering Evidence

Proving sexual harassment can be challenging, especially if there are no witnesses. An attorney can assist you in gathering the necessary evidence, such as emails, text messages, or witness statements, to support your case.

Filing a Complaint

Filing a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state’s human rights agency is often a necessary step in pursuing a sexual harassment claim. An attorney can guide you through this process and ensure that your complaint is filed correctly and on time.

Pursuing Legal Action

If your employer fails to address the harassment or retaliates against you for reporting it, you may need to pursue legal action. An experienced attorney can represent you in court and help you seek compensation for damages, including lost wages, emotional distress, and legal fees.

Protecting Your Rights

Retaliation is a common concern for individuals who report sexual harassment. A lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure that you are not subjected to further mistreatment or retaliation for speaking out.

The Value of a Morgantown Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Choosing the right lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. A Morgantown sexual harassment lawyer has the local knowledge and experience needed to handle your case effectively.

Here are some qualities to look for in a lawyer:


Look for a lawyer with experience handling sexual harassment cases. They should be familiar with the relevant laws and have a track record of success in representing clients in similar situations.


Dealing with sexual harassment can be emotionally challenging. A compassionate lawyer will provide the support and understanding you need throughout the legal process.


Your lawyer should be dedicated to fighting for your rights and achieving the best possible outcome for your case. They should be willing to go the extra mile to gather evidence, build a strong case, and represent you in court.


Clear and open communication is essential in any legal case. Your lawyer should keep you informed about the progress of your case and be available to answer your questions and address your concerns.

Contact a Morgantown Sexual Harassment Lawyer Today

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that can have a significant impact on your career and well-being. Understanding what constitutes sexual harassment and knowing your legal rights are key steps in addressing this problem.

If you have experienced sexual harassment, seeking legal help from a Morgantown sexual harassment lawyer can provide the support and guidance you need to protect your rights and pursue justice. Contact Desai Law today to speak with a dedicated Morgantown sexual harassment lawyer who will fight for your rights and help you achieve the justice you deserve. 


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