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Allegheny County sexual harassment lawyersThe office romance is the basis of numerous highly-successful TV shows and movies. For example, Leslie Knope nearly lost her position as city councilor after having a secret relationship with her boss on the hit show Parks and Recreation. Likewise, the show The Office centered largely around a relationship which forms between two co-workers. While things almost always work out for the best in TV relationships, the reality of office relationships is often much gloomier. Office romances can lead to accusations of sexual harassment and leave employees confused and uncomfortable.

The Close Quarters of Many Work Environments May Contribute to Office Romances

For many Americans, their job is their life’s passion. Many individuals spend upwards of 50-60 hours a week in close proximity to their co-workers. For many professionals, it can be difficult to spend a great deal of time with someone they enjoy and not develop romantic or sexual feelings for him or her. However, office romances can be risky. Sexual or romantic relationships between a boss and a subordinate are especially dangerous. A supervisor who has a relationship with a subordinate may be accused of quid pro quo sexual harassment. The subordinate may feel as those he or she has no choice but to consent to the relationship, even if this was not the intent of the supervisor. Situations like these can quickly develop into full-blown sexual harassment cases.

Check Your Employee Handbook for Information on Sexual Harassment Policies

Many businesses are now addressing their rules regarding office romances in print. If you are considering entering into a relationship with a co-worker, check to see what your employer’s policy is regarding these types of situations. Some businesses ask employees to disclose any office romances to human resources as a means of protecting both the company as well as the individuals in the relationship. Other businesses ban romantic office relationships outright.

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Pittsburgh sexual harassment lawyersEvery employee deserves to feel safe at work and to be paid fairly for their efforts.  Employees have certain rights, called workplace rights, which are guaranteed by law. Title VII of the the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it officially illegal for businesses to discriminate on the basis of "race, color, religion, sex or national origin." The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 reinforced workplace rights and added further protections for women and minorities. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination protected against by both federal and state law. Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace continues to be a problem in the United States.

Hostile Work Environment Harassment Creates a Threatening Work Atmosphere

According to the law, there are two types of sexual harassment. Hostile work environment and quid pro quo harassment. Hostile work environment harassment involves behaviors and remarks which create an abusive or hostile work environment. The law specifies that the offensive behavior or remarks have to be “severe and pervasive” enough to interfere with the affected employee’s ability to do his or her job. Isolated incidents or trivial offensive behaviors may not meet the legal definition of sexual harassment.

When Does Awkward Behavior Cross the Line into Harassment?

Actions which may be considered harassing behavior include but are not limited to:

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Pittsburgh sexual harassment attorneysNever has the nation’s attention been more focused on sexual misconduct than in the last few years. Many influential and famous men have been accused of sex crimes ranging from violent sexual assault to workplace sexual harassment.

While it is true that the vast majority of sex crime victims are women, it is imperative to note that men can also be the victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment. In fact, a recent survey showed that approximately one-third of working men have experienced sexual harassment in the prior year. Furthermore, a little over 16 percent of all complaints made to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), were filed by men in 2011. Data shows that this number is rising. Men may have a particularly difficult time when filing complaints about workplace sexual harassment for a variety of reasons. If you are a man who has been sexually harassed at work, keep the following things in mind.

You Deserve to Be Free from Harassment

Being sexually harassed at work can be devastating. No one should have to tolerate unwanted touching or sexually-charged comments or jokes made at their expense. Furthermore, no one should ever be forced to perform sexual favors in order to keep his or her job or gain workplace benefits. Unfortunately, sexual harassment like this continues to be a problem in offices and worksites across the country. If you are a man who has been sexually harassed, you have just as much legal right to representation as a woman does. Men and women can be both victims and perpetrators of sexual harassment.

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Allegheny County sexual harassment attorneysNever before has the subject of sexual harassment and sexual assault been more relevant. Advocates for better sexual harassment awareness and prevention say that unreported sexual misconduct has gone on long enough. Women and men in all types of professions can be burdened by unwanted sexual attention from co-workers, but studies show that individuals in certain professions are much more likely to experience sexual harassment or assault at work than others. Nursing, a profession dominated by women, is one of these professions.

Nurses Say Patient Harassment is Unavoidable

Most people would agree that being a nurse is a physically, emotionally, and psychologically-demanding job. Nurses not only have to tend to patients’ medical needs, but also their social and emotional needs. Unfortunately, the close proximity of nurses to their patients combined with the emotional connection nurses sometimes form with patients can cause patients to cross the line. Many patients in hospitals or doctor’s offices are elderly, disabled, or cognitively impaired. Some patients who make sexual advances towards nurses do so because they are suffering from conditions like deminita. Other patients may believe that their inappropriate behavior is harmless or simply not care that the sexual advances make their nurse uncomfortable.

Nurses interviewed for an NBC story explained that patients had exposed themselves to nursing staff or even groped nurses’ bodies. One nurse even explained that behavior like this is “par for the course” and that all nurses must learn to tolerate it. One poll published by Medscape Medical News found that an overwhelming majority – over seventy percent – of nurses had been harassed by a patient.

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Allegheny County sexual harassment lawyersToday, it is not unusual to see stories about sexual harassment or sexual misconduct on the front page of newspapers—or, perhaps more accurately, internet news feeds. This has not always been the case. For many years, sexual harassment was largely a taboo topic. Countless victims suffered in silence while the perpetrators and their employers were never held responsible for their actions.

While the modern-day discussion of sexual harassment was prompted, to a certain extent, by the allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein and resulting #MeToo movement, many historians suggest that specific allegations made almost 30 years ago were instrumental in creating awareness of sexual harassment for the first time in the United States.

Sex Talk on Television

In 1991, a former U.S. Department of Education staffer testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee regarding how she had been treated by her former boss. The woman’s name was Anita Hill, and her boss was a Supreme Court nominee and federal judge Clarence Thomas. Ms. Hill worked as attorney-adviser to Thomas when he was the Assistant Secretary of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights beginning in 1981. Thomas was named chairman of the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1982, and Hill went with him as an assistant. She would leave that job in 1983.

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