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Workplace Inequality and Injustice – TIME’S UP

Workplace inequality

Our law firm has joined TIME’S UP in their fight against workplace inequality and injustice by becoming a member of The National Women’s Law Center’s Legal Network for Gender Equity.

Legal Network for Gender Equity fights Workplace InequalityTIME'S UP on workplace inequality and injustice

TIME’S UP is a unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere.

From movie sets to farm fields to boardrooms alike, we envision nationwide leadership that reflects the world in which we live.

Powered by women, TIME’S UP addresses the systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace that have kept underrepresented groups from reaching their full potential.

Learn more about the TIME’S UP project and mission.


TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund Helps Fight Workplace Inequality

In addition to providing online information and resources, TIME’S UP has set up a legal defense fund to aid in the fight against workplace inequality and injustice.

TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund wiill subsidize legal support for individuals who have experienced sexual harassment or related retaliation in the workplace.

The Fund is housed at and administered by the National Women’s Law Center, an established, national women’s rights legal organization.

A network of lawyers and public relations professionals across the country will work with the Center’s Legal Network for Gender Equity to provide assistance to those who have experienced harassment or retaliation.

Access to prompt and comprehensive legal and communications help will mean empowerment for these individuals and long-term growth for our culture and communities as a whole.

Legal Representation for Workplace Inequality and Injustice

Our law firm specializes in helping victims, including victims of workplace discrimination, retaliation, and harassment.

Workplace sexual harassment is unlawful in all states under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.  (It also prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of other protected traits, such as a person’s race, national origin, or religion.)

Under this and other sexual harassment laws, an employer is said to have discriminated when an employee is subjected to severe or pervasive harassment at work on the basis of sex.

If you are a victim of workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation, inequality, or injustice, we may be able to help.

Contact us now.

Blain | Online Forum & Community

Discuss issues relating to current gender-related and social justice issues, such as workplace sexual harassment, cyber abuse, and sexual assault & rape at our online forum & community.


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Landlord Sexual Harassment – What To Do

landlord sexual harassment

As we know, sexual harassment isn’t limited to Hollywood.  The problem is insidious. It can be found wherever an imbalance of power exists, including in landlord-tenant relationships.  Landlord sexual harassment is a form of housing discrimination. It is unlawful. And it happens all too frequently.

The online publication Mogul released an important piece on what you should know and what you can do if you find yourself the victim of sexual harassment by your landlord.

You can read the full article at:

What to do when you are sexually harassed by your landlord.

Report Landlord Sexual Harassment

As outlined in the Mogul piece, you should report sexual harassment within one (1) year of its occurrence by filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD is responsible for enforcing violations of the Fair Housing Act, a federal law prohibiting housing discrimination.

You can get the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form to download, complete and return, or you can complete it online.

Or you can write HUD a letter, or call them.

HUD’s Regional Office for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee is located in Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta Regional Office of FHEO
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Five Points Plaza
40 Marietta Street, 16th Floor
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-2806

(404) 331-5140
(800) 440-8091
TTY (404) 730-2654

If You Have Been Assaulted Call 911

If you are in danger (or perceive that you are), don’t mess around — call for help.

Find Somewhere Else to Stay

As noted in the article, even if you still have time left on your lease, if you continue to suffer landlord sexual harassment, it might be in your best interest to leave as soon as possible.

Document, Document, Document

Many people don’t report sexual harassment because they don’t know how to prove it happened. Some ways you can prove your case include:

  • Setting up surveillance video.
  • Contacting witnesses who have seen the harassment.
  • Creating a paper trail by documenting everything, and reporting the misconduct to the police or your local fair housing organization.

Hire a Lawyer

If you need help in putting a stop to landlord sexual harassment or if you have been a victim, you can get help from an experienced sexual harassment attorney.

 

Posted in law

Sexual Harassment Laws

sexual harassment laws

Sexual Harassment Laws

Workplace sexual harassment is unlawful in all states under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.  (It also prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of other protected traits, such as a person’s race, national origin, or religion.)  Under this and other sexual harassment laws, an employer is said to have discriminated when an employee is subjected to severe or pervasive harassment at work on the basis of sex.

Gender Discrimination

Sexual harassment is considered a type of discrimination because it fundamentally changes the terms and conditions of person’s employment — a change that would not have occurred had the employee been of a different gender.

But, just because sexual harassment is a type of discrimination does not mean a victim has to prove co-workers of the same gender were treated the same way.

Even if the victim was the only one subjected to harassment because of his/her gender, that is enough.

And, along the same lines, a person can be sexually harassed by a person of the same gender.

Just because the harasser and victim are of the same gender, does not mean that it was not sexual harassment.

What matters is whether the mistreatment was related to the victim’s gender.  If so, then it is prohibited by sexual harassment laws.

What It Looks Like

Sexual harassment at work can take many forms.  The ways in which a person can be victimized is limited only by a perpetrator’s imagination.

That being said, when it shows up in the workplace, sexual harassment frequently appears in one of two common forms: hostile environment and quid pro quo.

Hostile Work Environment

Hostile environment harassment is objectively offensive behavior directed at the victim that is repeatedly inflicted over time or that is severe enough to interfere with the victim’s employment.  An example of this would be a manager repeatedly making lewd or sexually-suggestive remarks to the employee for months — or engaging in nonconsensual sexual contact with her.

These incidents could be so pervasive or severe as to interfere with the employee’s work, and would therefore be considered unlawful.

Quid-Pro-Quo

Another kind of sexual harassment that often arises in the workplace is quid-pro-quo harassment.

This is when a perpetrator conditions benefits on the victim’s willingness to comply with certain demands.  These demands may be made explicit or merely implied.

Because the perpetrator altered the terms and conditions of employment in a way that is connected to the victim’s gender, this conduct is unlawful.

Preventing It

To prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, employers must first make sure that their employees understand exactly what sexual harassment may look like.

Cultural and social differences affect individuals’ perceptions of what may or may not constitute offensive or harmful conduct.

For instance, a manager may believe he is harmlessly joking around with a subordinate.  But he may actually be inflicting tremendous suffering on an employee who believes that her continued employment depends on her willingness to engage in interactions with him that cause her great discomfort.

To prevent this, employers should first — as part of their on-boarding and routinely thereafter — provide their employees interactive and engaging education on the potential impact on others of certain types of behaviors at work.

Victim Guilt and Shame

A frequently overlooked element in understanding victims’ responses to sexual harassment is the role of guilt. Sexual harassment victims commonly battle self-blame and shame before coming forward.

This may be due, at least in part, to people’s natural tendency to believe that if something bad is happening only to them, then they themselves must have done something to bring it about—or they must be defective in some way.

When victims feel alone in their experiences, they believe the problem is them.

Live and Work in Freedom From Sexual Harassment

If you are a victim, under sexual harassment laws, you are entitled to have your employer put a stop to ongoing harassment.  You are also entitled to have your employer correct work-related negative effects of harassment.

If you believe your employer is not acting to put a stop to harassment or if you believe your employer has retaliated against you because you complained of harassment, you should immediately contact a sexual harassment attorney.

Sexual harassment laws

 

Cyberbullying Laws: Legal Solutions for Victims of Cyber Abuse

Revenge porn is a crime

Cyberbullying Laws & Legal Solutions

While cyberbullying laws are presently very few and far between, legal solutions do exist for victims of cyber abuse— including cyberbullying, cyber harassment, and cyberstalking.

Understanding Cyberbullying

Cyber abuse in its various forms, which includes cyberbullying, cyber harassment, and cyberstalking, is increasingly recognized as a significant public health concern.

To understand what cyber abuse is and what it can look like, you should focus on what is being done and how it is being done.  All forms of cyber abuse involve two main components:

(1) a type of behavior, the conduct and (2) a means of communication, the tool.

The Conduct.

The first element for identifying cyber abuse is recognizing the type of conduct that is involved.  This is, essentially, bullying.

The conduct may consist of threats, harassment (i.e., conduct that is repeated over time), or other actions taken to embarrass or humiliate the victim.  Cyber abuse may also involve nonconsensual image-sharing (i.e., ‘revenge porn’).

Cyberbullying involves conduct directed toward a person or persons for the purpose of causing harm.

The Tool.

The second component of cyberbullying involves the tool used: Technology.

The type of technology a perpetrator may use can vary from case to case.

A perpetrator may utilize the Internet or a cell phone.  The perpetrator may post images or information on social media, send text messages or emails, or utilize other forms of technological communication.  The perpetrator may combine any of these.

The options are limited only by the perpetrator’s imagination.

Cyberbullying vs. ‘Traditional’ Bullying

It is important to note that the distinction between cyberbullying and so-called ‘traditional’ bullying is not merely a technical or inconsequential one.

In some ways, yes, it is true that cyber abuse is old-fashioned bullying and abuse just transposed to a new kind of media.

But there are implications to a perpetrator’s use of technology as the chosen tool for abuse that makes the bullying even more harmful—and the resulting damage potentially far more severe.

Features of Cyberbullying

The use of technology enables a perpetrator to inflict greater harm on a victim—and to do so with much less effort.

The potential for greater harm from online abuse flows directly from several factors related to use of technology as a communication device.  These factors include:

  • Anonymity: Through use of technology, the perpetrator is able to interact, communicate, or publish anonymously.
  • Audience: Using technology enables the perpetrator to reach a far greater audience—which means the ability to embarrass or humiliate the victim is exponentially multiplied.  And a larger audience can result in the creation of a mob mentality in which, like a snowball rolling downhill, the abuse can take on a life of its own as more and more perpetrators get involved.
  • Avoidance: Through use of technology, a perpetrator may remain insulated from having to personally confront or interact with a victim—or avoid witnessing the victim’s true suffering that results from the perpetrator’s actions.
  • Access: As a result of the relative ease of communicating through technology and the ability to communicate 24 hours a day means that a perpetrator’s conduct faces virtually no external restraints.  As a result, a victim may experience abuse that feels unrelenting.

Cyberbullying Methods

Some methods commonly employed by perpetrators of online abuse include:

  • Flaming. Engaging in aggressive exchanges with angry and vulgar language.
  • Harassment. Repeatedly sending nasty, mean, and insulting messages.
  • Denigration. Gossiping or spreading rumors about a victim to damage his/her reputation or relationships.
  • Impersonation. Pretending to be someone else while sending or posting material to create trouble or danger for the victim, or to damage his/her reputation or relationships.
  • Outing. Sharing a victim’s secrets or embarrassing information or images online.
  • Trickery. Convincing a victim into revealing secrets or embarrassing information, and then sharing it with others.
  • Exclusion. Engaging in conduct with the aim of intentionally excluding a victim from groups or social activities.
  • Cyberstalking. Placing a victim under surveillance, or causing them to feel that they are being watched, followed, monitored, or surveilled.  It typically involves repeated, intense harassment and denigration that includes threats or creates significant fear.

Cyberbullying Victims

Cyber abuse victims span all ages and demographics.

The term ‘cyberbullying’ is typically used when the person experiencing the online abuse or aggression is a minor or relatively young.  When the victim is an adult, the behavior may be referred to as ‘cyber harassment’

That being said, anyone can be a victim.

There are, however, certain risk factors that may increase the likelihood that a person may experience online bullying or harassment.

In the U.S., the likelihood of being a victim of cyberbullying or cyber harassment are increased by:

  • young age
  • female gender
  • LGBTQ
  • a visible disability or impairment.

Why is Cyber Abuse a Problem?

When they first learn of cyber abuse, many people’s initial reaction is to dismiss it as a non-problem.

Why does it matter?’ They may say.

Or they might suggest that the problem can easily be solved if the victim just ‘logged-off’—i.e., no longer interacts with others online.

But, logging-off is hardly a solution.

In fact, to simply opt-out from engaging in online interactions is virtually (excuse the pun) impossible.

Quite simply, in this day and age, permanently logging-off is impossible.  Online interactions are interwoven into every aspect of our modern lives.  And this reality is even more pronounced among teens and youth.

But, more importantly, logging off—even if it were possible—does nothing to solve the problem for several reasons.

First, cyberbullying and cyber harassment are not limited to online interactions.  As discussed above, any form of technology may be used as a tool for cyber abuse.

Second, even if the cyber abuse at issue is, for a particular victim, only occurring online, the damage created continues to exist regardless of whether the victim interacts online.  In other words, given that cyber bullying and harassment may center on matters published online that are witnessed by others, logging off would only solve the problem if everyone else in the world were to log off too.  Obviously, that will not happen.

Cyberbullying is a problem that follows its victims.

Harmful Effects

We should all care about cyber abuse because the problem is pervasive, it is often severe and, importantly, the effects can be highly damaging.

In fact, the effects may be even more severe than so-called traditional bullying.

Cyberbullying and cyber harassment victims often face increased absenteeism, anxiety, depression, poorer grades in school, damage to physical health and well-being, self-esteem, sleeping issues, social anxiety, and more.

And most frightening of all, too many victims—believing that there is no other way to escape—may ultimately resort to suicide.

Cyber abuse can be an urgent and devastating problem.

Cyberbullying Laws & Legal Solutions

There are few cyberbullying laws presently on the books in the United States. But several laws and principles exist that may be leveraged to combat cyberbullying, cyber harassment, and cyberstalking.

Identify the Perpetrator.

I always tell my clients that the first key in any cyber abuse case is to definitively ascertain the identity of the perpetrator.

In many cases, the victim often has a good idea who the perpetrator or cyberbully may be.

But to invoke cyberbullying laws that may offer protection against online abuse, a simple hunch is not enough.  Instead, to move forward with legal remedies, you will need to establish or confirm the culprit’s identity with proof.

If the evidence in your possession is not enough to identify the perpetrator, you should consider hiring an expert with experience in conducting cybersecurity-related investigations.

1. Criminal Laws.

Several states have enacted criminal cyberbullying laws; explicitly prohibiting behavior that can properly called cyber abuse.

Georgia, for instance, makes it a crime to harass, molest, threaten, or intimidate anyone through electronic communication or by phone.  Several other states have similar laws.

A victim may seek enforcement of these criminal laws by reporting the abuse to local law enforcement authorities.

2. Education Laws.

When dealing with cyber abuse arising in or around school, a legal avenue to explore is whether any education-centered cyberbullying laws apply.

In Georgia, for instance, public education laws specifically prohibit bullying that involves:

use of data or software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, computer net­work, or other electronic technology of a local school system.

O.C.G.A. § 20-2-751.4

A student that violates this or other education-centered cyberbullying laws may face stiff penalties—including removal from the school and assignment to an alternative school.

3. Workplace Laws.

Depending on the substance of the harassing communications, the victim may be able to rely on employment-related laws to combat cyber harassment.

For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (a federal anti-discrimination law) prohibits conduct that is severe or pervasive enough to interfere with a person’s employment, if the harassment is because of race, gender, national origin, religion, or disability.

If the victim is being harassed because of one of those protected traits, and the perpetrator is a co-worker of the victim or the victim suffers employment-related adverse actions due to the harassment, an employer may have a duty to step in and take steps to stop the harassment or redress the negative employment-related effects of the harassment.  If the employer fails to either, as appropriate, it may be held liable.

4. Restraining Orders.

Most states authorize a victim to obtain a restraining order or a protective order to guard a victim from threatening, intimidating, or harassing communications.

Georgia, for example, authorizes courts to issue a restraining order when a perpetrator engages in conduct such as placing a person under surveillance or engaging in contact with a person “for the purpose of harassing and intimidating” the victim.

Importantly, this law expressly defines contact to include electronic communications:

the term ‘contact’ shall mean any communication including without being limited to communication in person, by telephone, by mail, by broadcast, by computer, by computer network, or by any other electronic device.

O.C.G.A. §16-5-90.

While restraining order statutes like these are useful precisely because of the broad definition of that key word contact—the same word also reveals a clue as to a limitation on the usefulness of restraining orders in cyberbullying cases: contact.  In many cases, cyber abuse includes indirect harmful communications; the negative communications swirl about and center on the victim, but the perpetrator does not directly contact the victim.  In these cases, obtaining a restraining order may be challenging, even if the perpetrator is known and identified.

Depending on the case and through careful case preparation, this problem can be avoided—and the victim may successfully secure a restraining order even though the perpetrator avoided direct contact with the victim.

5. Civil Lawsuits.

In addition to proceeding under cyberbullying laws, online abuse may also form the basis of a successful civil lawsuit.

A civil case stemming from online harassment or other forms of cyber abuse may proceed under traditional theories of liability, such as intentional torts or negligence.

For instance, a known and identified perpetrator may be directly and personally liable for intentional torts they commit.  For example, a cyberbully may be sued for libel/defamation or intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Entities not directly engaging in acts of cyber abuse may also be held liable in civil lawsuits.  Cases against these third-parties proceed under traditional theories of liability and negligence.  For example, a social media platform or other online publisher may be liable for failing to prevent foreseeable injuries to a victim or for the company’s failure to intervene when it knew or should have known that harm would result.

Hire an Experienced Lawyer

If you are a victim of cyber abuse, cyberbullying laws exist that may apply to your case and legal solutions are available.

Contact a lawyer who is experienced in cyberbullying laws and cyber abuse cases—including cyberbullying, cyber harassment, and cyberstalking.  An experienced attorney can help you navigate the issue and pursue legal remedies that may be available to you.  It is important to get help as early as possible.

Most importantly, remember: Help is available.

You can recover from this.

Contact Blain LLC

 


Read more about cyberbullying and online aggression:

What to Teach Your Children About Online Bullying

online bullying

Online Bullying

Online bullying or cyberbullying involves threatening, humiliating, or harming another person through use of digital technology, such as online social media, text messages, or email.

Jane Swan, the principal of an online public charter school, offers the following advice to help parents teach their children about online bullying.

Educate Them

An initial hurdle in addressing online bullying (i.e., cyberbullying, cyber harassment, and cyber abuse) stems from just understanding what it is —  and what it can look like.

As such, Ms. Swan recommends talking to youth about what they may encounter in online and mobile interactions, and when it should be considered a problem.

This can be as simple as making clear to them that behavior that would unacceptable off-line, does not become acceptable just because it is happens online.

Ms. Swan refers to this notion as “netiquette.”

Importantly, Ms. Swan emphasizes the importance of teaching children that they too bear responsibility in not perpetrating cyber abuse:

Before your child becomes active on social media, teach him or her how to be respectful online.

They shouldn’t post words or photos that they wouldn’t share in person.

The importance of this lesson is underscored when one considers recent studies finding that most online bullying is peer-on-peer.

Monitor Them and Recognize the Signs

Ms. Swan also recommends that parents monitor their child’s social media pages and pay attention to any signs of trouble—both online (such as negative posts or comments from others appearing on your child’s social media pages) or offline (such as signs of severe anxiety in teenagers or other behavioral/mood changes, like sadness or trouble sleeping).

Take Action

Finally, in the event your child encounters difficulties stemming from online bullying, Ms. Swan underscores the importance of making sure your child has a clear idea of what to do.

In particular, she notes, children should understand the importance of telling a responsible adult.

From there, a crucial first step is reporting the events to appropriate entities, including social media platforms and (if applicable) school authorities.