Charleston Sexual Harassment Lawyers
West Virginia Employment Law Attorneys
The Charleston sexual harassment lawyers at Campbell & Smith provide compassionate, strategic, and sensitive legal representation to employees who are currently facing harassment in the workplace — or who have faced harassment in the past couple of years.
You don’t deserve to deal with the terrible pressures of sexual harassment. No one does. It is insulting, immoral, and disgusting. It’s also illegal. And it needs to be taken seriously.
You work hard, and you should be free to bring your skills and talent to the table without an employer, co-worker, or superior reducing you to your gender, your sexuality, or your body.
Unfortunately, most instances go completely unaddressed. That’s exactly why it continues to happen so frequently, even in this modern age, when we’d all like to believe we’ve moved on from such things.
It’s easy to understand why some victims are reluctant to come forward. If you’ve been subjected to sexual harassment, you might feel embarrassed, unsure of whether you have a “legitimate” claim, or you may even fear that you’ll lose your job if you say something. That’s why it’s so important to reach out for help from someone who can safeguard your confidentiality and your legal interests at the same time.
“My boss was sexually harassing me at work, and I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to speak up and didn’t know what would happen if I did. After meeting with Matt and Adam, I knew that everything would be alright. They handled my case and got me more compensation than I thought was possible.” – A.D.
We understand that these cases aren’t quite like other legal disputes. There’s an intimate personhood involved in these matters, and as attorneys, it’s essential that we respect that.
Just as importantly, we want to make sure that you don’t spend one more day as a victim.
You have rights, and we are here to protect and enforce them.
When you hire us, you’ll have an aggressive team of Charleston sexual harassment attorneys advising you on the best legal strategy — but we’ll also let you stay in the driver’s seat as much as you want to be there, ensuring we never take your case to a place you don’t want to go.
That said, we know how effective a strong legal stance can be, and we’re here to advance your best interests at every single turn.
Sexual harassers are empowered by a power differential. It’s when they have authority over you in the chain of command — or when they have social power within your work community — that they’re able to target you.
Our team of experienced Charleston sexual harassment attorneys is here to level the playing field and put justice on your side. Contact us today.
Types of Sexual Harassment
Harassment can take many forms. Some of it is overt, explicit, and obvious. In other cases, it may be subtle and implied. Indeed, sexual harassers often try to “push the envelope” without “crossing the line,” hoping they can make advances while maintaining plausible deniability. That’s unacceptable.
Generally speaking, to succeed in a lawsuit in our state, the offensive behavior needs to have been pervasive or severe. A single, minor incident is generally not enough.
Of course, what one person considers minor might seem extremely severe to the victims themselves.
To determine whether the conduct rises to the level of unlawful sexual conduct, courts will look at the broader context of the alleged harassment. Courts consider all the facts and circumstances, the frequency of the behavior, whether there have been other complaints of a similar nature, and other relevant factors when making these decisions.
Some examples of conduct might include:
- Unwanted touching
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Requests for sexual favors
- Verbal conduct of a sexual nature
- Physical conduct of a sexual nature
- Frequent or repeated jokes that are lewd or sexual in nature
- “Cat calling” or whistling
- Quid pro quo tied to sex (see below)
- Creating or permitting a hostile work environment
This isn’t necessarily a comprehensive list. There are many kinds of sexual harassment, and context matters. If the situation you’ve experienced doesn’t quite match those listed here, we encourage you to reach out to our office and schedule a confidential consultation with our Charleston sexual harassment lawyers.
Sexual Harassment and West Virginia Law
This topic is more complicated than many other laws, due in part to the fact that both state and federal law can apply. It’s easy to get confused about which of these laws governs and when.
Federal law applies to sexual harassment in companies with more than 15 employees, which generally means that employees of smaller business can’t bring a federal claim.
West Virginia broadens that scope a little bit, extending the West Virginia Human Right Act (which includes sexual harassment protections) to businesses that employ more than 12 people.
So does that mean you can’t take legal action under state law if your company is smaller than that? Not necessarily.
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has held that sexual harassment is illegal for any employer — regardless of the number of employees — because it violates public policy.
In other words, West Virginia law is complicated, so it’s in your best interest to contact one of our experienced Charleston sexual harassment lawyers and talk about the options that apply to your specific case. Never assume you don’t have a case until you talk to us.
“Quid Pro Quo” Can Be Sexual Harassment
“You’ll go home with me if you want to keep your job.”
That’s the classic example of a “quid pro quo” statement that would constitute illegal sexual harassment. This type of behavior can take other forms too.
It is unlawful for your employer or superior to ask for sexual favors in exchange for hiring you, promoting you, allowing you to keep your job, or granting you a job-related request you’ve made.
Even if your employer didn’t come right out and say it, implication through verbal or physical behavior may be enough (in some cases) to establish quid pro quo harassment. Our office can help.
Note: In quid pro quo cases, there is an exception to the general rule that a single incident of harassment is not enough for legal action. One singular incident may be sufficient if it resulted in you losing any job-related benefits or the loss of your job.
Sexual Harassment vs. Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a criminal offense that involves non-consensual physical contact of a sexual nature (or the imminent threat of such contact).
While sexual assault cases often also involve a civil claim for sexual harassment, it’s important for you to understand that you can have a civil claim for sexual harassment even if in the absence of assault or battery.
FAQ: What Is the Statute of Limitations on Sexual Harassment Lawsuits in WV?
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations on sexual harassment claims in West Virginia is two years. Civil claims must be filed within that time. (By contrast, some sexual assault crimes in our state have no statute of limitations.)
FAQ: Can I Sue for Sexual Harassment If I Already Quit My Job?
Victims often choose to leave their jobs, either because they are threatened with termination or because conditions become so bad they feel they must leave. This latter scenario is called constructive discharge or constructive termination.
It means that even if no one directly forced you to leave, you were effectively terminated as a result of the employer’s actions or a hostile working environment.
Our dedicated Charleston sexual harassment lawyers can help you bring a claim even if you’ve already left your job, provided you are still within the two-year statute of limitations period.
FAQ: Can Men Sue for Sexual Harassment?
Yes. While most famous cases in the media have involved a female employee and a male harasser, the law does not restrict justice on the basis of gender. The truth is that anyone can be targeted for harassment. At Campbell & Smith, we handle cases involving same-sex harassment, opposite-sex harassment, and harassment involving transgender employees and/or superiors — and we are committed to approaching these cases with the sensitivity they require.
FAQ: Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me If I Lose?
Employer retaliation has always been a source of concern among victims. State and federal legislatures knew this when they drafted the laws, so employees who have been targeted can rest assured: the law protects you against unfair retaliation — even if you lose.
The best way to defend against unlawful retaliation is to have aggressive Charleston sexual harassment attorneys standing by your side, fighting for your rights.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Taking a stand for justice is an act of courage, and we’re here to help you take that step. Our law firm exists to even the playing field and to oppose harassment, injustice, and unlawful behavior.
Campbell & Smith is a full-service legal practice located in Charleston, West Virginia. We serve clients throughout the Mountain State, and we do not charge a fee unless we’re successful with your claim.
Put experience, compassion, and strategy on your side. Contact our skilled Charleston sexual harassment lawyers today.
Set up a free case review by calling 304-345-9888 or contacting us online.