During these uncertain economic times, the job application and interview process can be anxiety-inducing and stressful. Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of the applicant’s need for a job by making sexual advances during the interview process. An employer may make inappropriate sexual comments or even proposition a job candidate for sexual favors.
When an employer makes sexual advances during an interview, the applicant may have a right to compensation through an employment discrimination claim. Kristi Favard, an experienced employment lawyer at Sapphire Legal, PLLC, can help you bring a claim against a prospective employer who made sexual advances during an interview. Contact her today to schedule your initial consultation.
Examples of Sexual Advances During a Job Interview
In some cases, potential employers make sexual advances through inappropriate sexual touch during the interview process. Individuals who are meeting for an interview typically shake hands when they sit down for the interview. While shaking hands is an acceptable business practice, employers cannot touch you in any way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
For example, suppose the potential employer places his hand on your knee or begins rubbing your back or touching you in a more explicitly sexual manner. These types of touch are inappropriate and can constitute sexual harassment. Any actions or words that have a sexual context or demand a sexual act can be considered sexual harassment. Other examples of inappropriate comments or conduct during the interview process include the following:
- Asking a job applicant for a date or sexual favors in exchange for getting the job
- Commenting about the job applicant’s body
- Sitting too close to the job applicant and placing a hand on her body
- Massaging the job applicant’s legs, shoulders, or other body parts
- Rubbing against the job applicant’s body when leaving or entering a room
- Asking about the job applicant’s sexual history
- The interviewer discussing his or her sexual history
- Making derogatory comments about the job applicant’s sex or gender
- Asking a job applicant about his or her marital or dating status
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Employers are in a superior bargaining position when they interview applicants. Many applicants need employment. Some employers use their position of power to take advantage of job applicants by making sexual advances. According to federal and state laws, there are two main categories of illegal sexual harassment: quid pro quo sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment. Offhand remarks, ordinary teasing, or isolated incidents may not rise to the level of prohibited sexual harassment.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employer or potential employer offers employment to an applicant in exchange for sexual favors. Suppose an employer tells an applicant that he will not offer the job applicant the job unless they engage in a sexual act.
Or, suppose an employer tells an applicant he will give the applicant a higher starting salary if they engage in sexual relations or sexual touching. In these examples, the employer has been involved in illegal quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Hostile Work Environment
The second type of sexual harassment involves a hostile work environment. During the hiring process, an applicant may be exposed to unwanted, sexually explicit comments. Suppose an interviewer makes sexually lewd comments or gestures about a person’s body. An interviewer may expose an applicant to sexually explicit conduct, such as pornography.
An interviewer may also discuss his or her sexual practices or preferences in front of the applicant. In all of these situations, the employer has created a hostile work environment in violation of federal and state laws. Potential employees have the same legal rights as employees when it comes to sexual harassment.
Legal Protection For Victims of Sexual Advances During a Job Interview
Engaging in lewd language or asking an applicant to engage in sexual activity to receive employment is illegal in Washington state. Both federal and state employment laws prohibit sexual harassment during job interviews. Under these laws, sexual harassment is a type of prohibited discrimination. All of the anti-discrimination laws that protect employees also protect potential employees, even during the job interview process.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from sexually harassing job applicants. Job applicants who experience sexual harassment during interviews can file a claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC defines sexual harassment as requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, or any other conduct during the interview that involves sexual activity.
During job interviews, victims of sexual advances can also file a complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission. Employers who ask about an employee’s gender identity or sexual orientation or who make sexually based comments or advances violate Washington State’s anti-discrimination laws. Applicants must file a claim within six months from the date of the interview to protect their rights. In other cases, filing a lawsuit against the employer in a civil court may become necessary.
The Benefits of Working With a Snohomish County Employment Lawyer After Sexual Advances During an Interview
Going through a job interview can be stressful. When a potential employer makes sexual advances or inappropriate comments, knowing how to react can be difficult. Refusing sexual advances during an interview can interfere with your prospects as an employee. If you’ve been the victim of sexual advances during a job interview, you have a right to recover compensation for the financial losses you’ve experienced.
Working with an experienced employment lawyer will help you protect your rights and file a claim within the statutory limitations. An employment lawyer will help you gather evidence and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Discuss Your Sexual Harassment Claim With an Attorney in Washington State
If you believe that you have experienced sex-based discrimination during a job interview, you may be entitled to compensation. Attorney Kristi Favard of Sapphire Legal, PLLC, has helped many Seattle-area clients recover the compensation they deserve. She focuses her legal practice on protecting the rights of job applicants and employees. Contact her today to schedule an appointment.