Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What You Can Do

The news that the NBA has suspended Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million after an investigation found that he had engaged in “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies” has triggered a larger discussion about the issue of harassment in the workplace – particularly sexual harassment, and just how prevalent it is. 

Sarver stands accused of using demeaning language toward his female employees, and of allegedly making inappropriate comments and jokes about sex and anatomy, according to local Phoenix, Arizona outlet KTVK 3TV and KPHO CBS 5 News.

How Common is Workplace Sexual Harassment?

This type of harassment is more common than many may think. More than 6,500 sexual harassment claims were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in FY 2020 – down from a high of more than 7,600 in 2018, but still worryingly frequent. 

Unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and “other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” are considered sexual harassment, according to the EEOC, when that conduct impacts an individual’s employment, “unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance,” or creates a hostile work environment.

Sexual harassment can happen to people of any sex, and a victim can be anyone impacted by the offensive conduct. 

Workplaces should have a process in place to report sexual harassment and employers should take immediate action when a complaint is made. But if you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment, it is also a good idea to speak with a legal expert.

Phillips Law Group’s own Meral Kocak spoke with KTVK 3TV/KPHO and said workplace harassment is very common. She noted that employees should report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable – and quickly. 

“You only have about six months to file if you want to take your case to court,” she explained. 

“Otherwise, you basically lose your claim.”

“Anything that you say to an attorney is confidential and you shouldn’t be afraid to speak out,” she added. 

For more information on this type of discrimination, please see the EEOC’s Fact Sheet.