What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates federal law and also violates many state and city laws. No person or occupation is immune from sexual harassment. The purpose of most laws that prohibit sexual harassment is to protect workers – both female and male – regardless of whether the worker is highly paid or not and regardless of the gender of the harasser.

The Impact of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment causes real harm, both monetary (losing pay, a promotion, or other harm to one’s career path), and emotional which can also have a serious and negative impact on the employee’s physical and emotional health. Another kind of harm is called “emotional injury” or “pain and suffering” and the emotional effects frequently reported as a result of sexual harassment include anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, weight loss or gain, loss of appetite, and other neurological and health disorders. In some instances, there has been a link between sexual harassment and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

There are many different ways for a victim of sexual harassment to respond to the emotional injury. One way is to seek psychological help. There may also be a natural desire to do things like trying to escape the harassing behavior by taking sick leave or leave without pay, or transferring to a less desirable assignment or job, or even quitting altogether. These are not necessarily in your best interest and might even prejudice your legal rights. You should seek legal advice before you do any of them so that you know what your options are and the risks and benefits of choosing one of the various courses of action available to you.

There are legal protections and many resources available to you. An attorney can advise you on your legal protections and help you find the resources you need. 

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