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Sexual Harassment Laws in Florida: Know Your Rights


The definition of sexual harassment under federal and state law is relatively straightforward, but the signs aren’t always easy to recognize in a real-life, on-the-job scenario. In some situations, there is no question that someone in your workplace has crossed over the line and into harassment territory; other times, the misconduct is subtle – yet just as intimidating. You do have rights as a potential victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, but you probably also have many questions about your circumstances. An experienced Florida harassment and discrimination lawyer can provide answers and discuss options for dealing with sexual harassment at work.

What is the definition of sexual harassment in the workplace?

Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based upon sex, as does the Florida’s Civil Rights Act. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination, so a victim has rights under both federal and state law.

Acts that constitute sexual harassment might include suggestive advances, requests or pressure to engage in sexual activities, , and repeated sexual comments – about you, to you, or about others of your gender. Simple teasing does not qualify as sexual harassment, unless it’s so pervasive and offensive that the actions create a hostile work environment. 

Who may be liable for acts that constitute sexual harassment?

For purposes of federal and Florida sexual harassment laws, the identity and characteristics of the offender aren’t important. The harasser may be male or female, older or younger, and of any sexual orientation, and it may be an executive, direct supervisor, manager, or co-worker. 

How do I deal with sexual harassment on the job?

Initially, you should inform the harasser that his or her conduct is unwelcome and uncomfortable. Use email or other written communication so you have a record. However, it’s important to also bring the behavior to the attention of your supervisor or another person of authority if your immediate supervisor is the harasser. In addition:

  • Check your employer’s policies regarding the procedures for reporting sexual harassment and follow those procedures; and
  • Contact an attorney about filing a Charge of Discrimination with the proper governmental agency before filing a lawsuit for employment discrimination based on the sexual harassment.

When it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace, federal and Florida law provide options for you to take action when faced with inappropriate behavior that creates a hostile work environment. Consulting with a qualified attorney should be your first step in addressing the situation. The employment and labor lawyers at Penichet Law have assisted many clients in pursuing sexual harassment claims, and holding the responsible employer accountable for unlawful conduct. If you have additional questions on harassment and discrimination in the workplace, please contact our Miami office. We welcome you to discuss the details of your case at a consultation with one of our attorneys.