Law Office of Alan Kansas, LLC

How Is Sexual Harassment Defined Under Louisiana Law?

Both Federal Law – Title VII – and the Louisiana Anti-Discrimination statute prohibit discrimination based on gender. Sexual harassment is a term we use to refer to certain types of gender discrimination in the workplace. Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature in the workplace.

How Common Is Sexual Harassment Issue In The Workplace?

It is more common than people seem to realize. In 2015, Cosmopolitan magazine conducted a survey of over 2000 respondents and over one third of women between the ages of 18 and 34 reported being sexually harassed in the workplace. The study indicated that the number may be higher than that because there were many women that did not report being sexually harassed but did report that they had experienced some conduct in the workplace that was sexual harassment. So sadly, the percentage of women who have experienced some form of sexual harassment is probably higher than one third. Another interesting part of the study found that over 7 out of 10 women who said they experienced sexual harassment did not report it.

What Are Some Examples Of Sexual Harassment In The Workplace?

As the law on sexual harassment developed, courts used the terms “hostile environment” and “quid pro quo” to describe the most common forms of harassment. When we talk about a hostile environment, we are talking about a situation where the sexual harassment in the workplace has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance and creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. This can take the form of sexual jokes, comments, displaying sexual materials in the workplace, and includes any conduct based on sex that is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile environment.

We used the term quid pro quo to describe situations where the employee is subjected to sexual conduct that is linked to a grant or denial of job benefits like a promotion, pay, scheduling, or an evaluation. In these cases, the harasser is relying on his actual or apparent authority as a supervisor to affect the terms and conditions of an employee’s workplace by coercing the victim to provide some sort of sexual favor. The link can be explicit, such as, “If you don’t provide this sexual favor, you will get fired,” or the link can be implied, but there must be some coercion or pressure on the part of the employer’s authority for the victim to grant some sort of sexual favor.

This is important: As an employee, you don’t have to grant the sexual favor, and you don’t have to be terminated or denied the promotion if you reject the request. The attempt to coerce is sufficient for there to be sexual harassment. In those situations, the outcome of the case often depends on whether the employee complained and how the employer responded. That is why it is important for employers and employees to get legal advice as soon as a sexual harassment problem arises.

Alan Kansas, Esq.

Get your questions answered. Call Now at
(504) 300-0071. I will get back to you soon.

Who Do You Represent In Sexual Harassment Cases?

I represent both employees and employers in these cases. The focus of my work with employers is to set up policies and procedures to prevent sexual harassment from happening, and to respond to complaints in a way that respects the rights of all parties involved and minimizes potential liability to the company. For employers, it is important to realize that with just a little preparation and effort, they can do the right thing by their employees and greatly reduce the chances that they will be liable in case someone breaks the rules. Having the right policies and procedures in place before an incident occurs can mean the difference between an expensive lawsuit and no lawsuit. Even more, once a complaint is made – regardless of whether the sexual harassment occurred or not — employers still often have a chance to eliminate or minimize liability to the company. The key is to get some legal help early on – preferably before a complaint is made, but definitely before responding to the complaint. I have seen many situations where a relatively inconsequential complaint was turned into a viable lawsuit by the company’s poor response to the complaint.

For employees who are victims of sexual harassment, I offer the whole spectrum of representation from legal counseling to courtroom representation. Just like with employers, the primary focus of my work is to advise and answer questions so my clients can make the smart moves necessary to protect their interests. Every client is different. Every victim has different goals and personal considerations. And some cases are stronger than others. I work with victims to explain how the law applies to their situation and help them make a plan that best suits their personal interests. This means looking beyond just the dollars and considering factors like long term career goals, family impact, and mental well-being that are often more important to a victim than short term financial gain. Of course, I also help employees get compensation for the emotional and economic losses they suffer because of sexual harassment.

Does Handling Sexual Harassment Cases From Both Sides Give You A Unique Perspective?

Before starting my own law practice in 2004, I spent almost 10 years at big downtown law firms doing nothing but defending large corporations in employment cases — including several sexual harassment cases. Since 2004, my employer clients have been small to medium sized companies. Having represented employers big and small in these kinds of cases has taught me what they are thinking about in terms of minimizing liability, minimizing risk, and keeping a business functioning while one of these cases is going on. This insight helps me unlock all the potential options for solving the problem.

Do You Recommend That Your Clients Keep A Diary Or A Journal Of What Has Happened?

Yes. In cases of verbal harassment or other things where you don’t have tangible or electronic evidence to collect, a diary or notes are going to be your best bet. The important thing is to be factual and provide the details of what happened and who was there. Be consistent, and don’t leave out any significant events. When the harassment takes the form of offensive emails or memos, be sure to print or save a copy somewhere. If it includes display or pictures or other objects, use that cell phone and take a picture.

Do Most Sexual Harassment Cases End Up Settling Outside Of Court?

I don’t have a statistic for that but in my experience, I would say yes. A large percentage of these cases are also rejected by the Courts before they get to trial. So, only a few get to the courtroom. But you never can assume that your case is going to settle. You need to prepare the case to go to trial and that’s how I deal with the cases here at my firm.

For help dealing with Sexual Harassment In Louisiana, call (504) 300-0071 today.

Alan Kansas, Esq.

Get your questions answered. Call Now at
(504) 300-0071. I will get back to you soon.

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