To meet the legal definition of harassment, an action must be severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile working environment. Therefore, employees in Ohio and elsewhere might not have a case against their employer even if they are the victim of lewd comments or sexual innuendo. However, lewd or sexually suggestive comments could be indicative of how managers perceive their workers, and that could have an impact on their careers.
In one recent case, women at Nike created a survey that was eventually sent to the company's CEO. The female employees claimed that they were marginalized and passed over for promotions. Furthermore, some claimed to have been called names or received emails about a colleague's breast size.
Companies should do whatever it takes to prevent employees from being victims of harassment. In some cases, upgrading an anti-discrimination policy is both the right thing to do and a way to reduce legal liability.
By taking more action against managers when they engage in what seem like minor transgressions, they can prevent more serious acts from occurring. Ideally, companies will emphasize to managers the amount of trust that workers need to have in them. They should also stress that managers are supposed to provide equal opportunities to all workers.
Employees who experience sexual harassment or workplace discrimination based on gender at work may choose to take legal action against their employers. If successful, employees might be entitled to compensation for back pay or benefits lost because of a demotion or wrongful termination. An attorney may review the case to determine if harassment was harsh enough to constitute a hostile working environment using evidence such as witness statements.