Many Americans work with or around their romantic partners and even spouses. Can an Ex Sexually Harass Me at Work? In fact, this can be especially true in small towns and communities, where a large company may be the primary employer for the entire region. People often meet their future spouses at work and work together for years. In general, this is fine, but what happens when the marriage falls apart? Whether a divorce is due to something that happened at work or something totally unrelated, it can take a toll on a couple's work life. Many spouses find it difficult to adapt to the new dynamic and changed relationship at work. An ex-spouse may begin dating again or may reject an ex's attempts at reconciliation.
Can an Ex Sexually Harass Me at Work?
Any number of complex emotions may be at play after a divorce, in particular when the parties are forced to continue interacting with each other every day in a work setting. This leads many to wonder whether they can actually be sexually harassed or discriminated against by their own ex-spouse. The short answer is YES. For help with your discrimination or harassment case, call Fonteneau & Arnold, LLC today.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment takes two broad general forms – direct unwanted advances or a hostile work environment. Basically, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) describes sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Of course, there does not need to be touching or even a “sexual” component to the conduct. If the person's gender or sexuality are the underlying basis for the harassment or negative treatment, it may rise to the level of sexual harassment. Likewise, repeated and predatory offhand or off-color remarks may create such a hostile environment that the victim feels powerless to stop it.
How can an Ex Harass Me?
Sometimes an ex may feel jilted or unwilling to ‘let go' after a breakup or divorce. While the majority of people understand that relationships end, and they are able to move on, some cannot. Here are just a handful of ways in which exes have harassed people in the workplace:
- Intimidating or harassing a new dating partner
- Using a superior position at the company to negatively impact an ex
- Ignoring an ex's demands to stop making sexual advances
- Using dirty jokes or comments to diminish or marginalize an ex-spouse at work
- Openly sharing or discussing private details of the relationship at work
- Sharing photos, information, or other things that are highly embarrassing
Who can be the Victim?
Women and men alike can be victims of discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. As recent headlines have shown, even icons of masculinity like actor Terry Crews have come forward with reports of sexual harassment. Title VII forbids both same sex and opposite sex harassment. In addition, although there is no explicit protection for sexual orientation in Title VII, harassment because a person does not conform to gender norms can be illegal. If a man is harassed because he does not appear masculine or a woman is harassed because she is not feminine enough, that could be illegal.
Fight Back Against Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
If you believe your ex has engaged in sexual harassment, and you want to know what options you have for taking back control of your life, call Us today to schedule a consultation with an attorney. We will meet with you privately and discreetly to discuss your case and figure out what options you may have. You may even be entitled to compensation if your employer knows about the problem and is not taking steps to correct it.