At the beginning of this year’s legislative session, members of the Ethics Committee have acknowledged the need for the Indiana General Assembly to “get up to speed” on developing sexual harassment policy in the Assembly. As they begin to start the process of educating the Assembly’s members, there are other campaigns happening all across Indiana, including Muncie, in response to several events and victims stepping forward over the past few years.
As a prominent employer of Muncie citizens, Ball State University has increased their awareness about workplace misconduct with expansive Title IX training as well as supporting students in their efforts to work and study in a harassment-free environment. A study lead by a nonprofit called Stop Street Harassment found that 38 percent of women have said they experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Other than public spaces, the workplace is the second highest location for sexual harassment to happen.
What Is Workplace Harassment?
The state of Indiana has defined workplace harassment to not just be sexual in nature, but also harassment in verbal or physical conduct. Sexual harassment can be a combination of actions such as unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This includes:
- Requests or demands to submit to any conduct, explicit or implicit, as a term or condition of an individual’s employment status
- Retaliation that later affects an individual’s career based on an individual submitting to or refusing to submit to conduct
- Any other conduct that has the purpose of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating a poor and hostile work environment
There are numerous conversations that surround the sexual component of workplace harassment, but harassment on a protected class also needs to be defined and discussed as well. The state of Indiana defines harassment on a protected class as verbal or physical conduct that “slanders or shows hostility or hatred toward an individual because of his/her protected status” in such a way that creates:
- An intimidating and offensive work environment
- Constant struggles to perform one’s responsibilities and work tasks
- Unsuccessful employment opportunities in the future
Sexual harassment and harassment of a protected class can intersect in the same situation. Often, such harassment produces outcomes that make it unsafe or unfeasible for an individual to continue working at their job. Because the person being harassed is not at fault for their own harassment, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation.
Elements of Workers’ Compensation
With the high likelihood that a sexual harassment claim can come forward within the workplace environment, it’s important to know the elements and extent that can be covered under workers’ compensation. In general, the accident and condition must have occurred through the course or realm of employment.
The debate surrounding workplace harassment is the intention behind it. Traditionally, workers’ compensation is for accidents that happen while at work. It doesn’t always include violent attacks or intentional misconduct. However, sexual harassment claims may be covered under workers’ compensation if they lead to medical expenses, such as therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A Muncie workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine whether or not your sexual harassment claim may qualify for workers’ compensation.
Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Every case is different. A Muncie workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate a deeply personal and hard time in your life if you find yourself a victim of workplace sexual harassment. Do not wait to seek out help — legally, medically, or emotionally. Call Hensley Legal Group today or contact us online for your free consultation.