Frequently Asked Questions
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is any kind of sexual behavior that is unwelcome and/or inappropriate for the workplace. Harassment can be verbal harassment (i.e. derogatory comments or dirty jokes under the right circumstances), visual harassment (i.e. derogatory or embarrassing posters, cartoons, drawings), physical harassment, and sexual favors (i.e. sexual advances, confrontation with sexual demands). In the workplace, sexual harassment can come from the owner, supervisor, manager, lead person, foreperson, coworker, and client/customer. Sexual harassment may also occur away from the workplace such as on a business trip.
If I’m being sexually harassed by a co-worker at my job, should I report the harassment to my supervisor and/or to management?
Yes, you should report the harassment to your supervisor and/or management as soon as possible. This will enable your employers to have notice of the sexual harassment and take the appropriate or remedial action necessary to stop the harassment. The complaint preferably should be made in writing and you should keep a copy of the complaint for your own records. In the complaint, you should specifically state facts involving the sexual harassment and the effect the sexual harassment is having on your ability to perform your job.
Is my employer responsible if the person harassing is a coworker?
An employer may be held liable for the conduct of the employee if the employer knew or should have known of the employee’s conduct and failed to take prompt remedial actions to stop the harassment.
Once I inform my employer about the sexual harassment, what must the employer do?
Once the employer knows or should know about the harassment, it has the duty to take immediate appropriate corrective action to end the harassment. The employer's response must be reasonably calculated to end the harassment and if earlier discipline did not end the harassment, more severe discipline is required.
If I am forced to resign from my job because of the ongoing sexual harassment, can I be considered to have been constructively terminated?
In order to have been constructively terminated, you must prove that the employer either intentionally or knowingly permitted intolerable working conditions; that a reasonable person would have been compelled to resign in light of the employer’s treatment; and that a reasonable employer should have realized that the conditions were so intolerable that a reasonable person in the employee's position would be compelled to resign.
Do I have a case?
Each case is different. The first step therefore is to have you come in for consultation during which we will discuss all the facts and the law with regard to your case, answer your questions and tell you if you have a case. We will be honest and straightforward with you.
How long do I have to file a discrimination or harassment lawsuit?
Your case must initially be filed with a government agency whether it be the State of Maine or the Federal Government. If it’s the State of Maine, you have six months from the last date of harassment or discrimination. With the Federal Government you have three hundred days. We have all the forms necessary to do the filings for you. Most importantly, you need to meet with us as soon as possible, so we can get the process going to make sure that you satisfy the time limitations.
How much will it cost me to hire a lawyer and pursue a sexual harassment or workplace discrimination lawsuit?
You will pay nothing. We use pure contingency agreements. This means that you don’t have to pay anything out of your pocket. Our fee comes from a percent of any recovery that you may get whether it be by way of settlement or verdict. We also advance any costs.
How much of my time would a lawsuit involve? How long will it take?
We try to minimize your inconvenience. We will have an initial meeting with you at which time we will gather as much information as possible, so we will not have to bother you in the future. At some point, the defendant may send out a request for documents and/or interrogatories. However, we should have the information from your initial meeting to respond to those inquiries. At some point, the defendant may want to take a deposition or statement from you. That would require your personal appearance. Other than that, we will handle all the activity. The only other time that you would have to get involved is at a mediation or in the unlikely event the case goes to trial.