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01.22.2016

A sexual harassment claim can derail a successful small business

Indiana small business owners have worked hard to get where they are. Unfortunately, a serious employment law claim can threaten the viability of any business. One of the most damaging claims that can be brought is a sexual harassment claim, and every Indiana business owner should have some understanding of the law governing these potentially explosive lawsuits.

Sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Any employer with 15 or more employees is subject to Title VII.

Sexual harassment can take many forms. It can include requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances or other inappropriate sexual conduct in the workplace. To give rise to a claim against the employer, the conduct must affect the victim’s employment, interfere unreasonably with their work performance or create an offensive or hostile work environment. An employer may face liability if they learn that sexual harassment may be taking place and fail to respond quickly and appropriately to stop the conduct.

Sexual harassment claims, even if unfounded, can be very expensive. It can also tie up valuable management time responding to discovery requests, meeting with lawyers and testifying at depositions and in court. If the claim is successful, the award or settlement can be a significant financial setback for a small business. Indiana business owners should understand what sexual harassment is and how to prevent it. If a claim is made, an experienced employment law firm can provide legal help to the business.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Facts About Sexual Harassment,” accessed Jan. 19, 2016