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How employment contracts complicate harassment cases

Employees who are victims of sexual harassment may face hurdles when it comes to speaking out about their experiences. This is because employers put arbitration clauses inside of their contracts. Therefore, victims don't have the right to go to court to pursue legal action, and they generally can't appeal an arbitrator's decision. One attorney even stopped defending employers after finding out what their contracts said.

While arbitration may seem to be stacked against an employee, one lawyer didn't see it that way. He said that cases brought to court could easily be dismissed whereas an arbitrator will hear both sides equally and is therefore more likely to work toward a solution to the problem when there is common ground. This lawyer defends employers in harassment cases, and he says that there can be multiple ways to achieve justice for victims. Despite this defense of arbitration clauses, lawmakers are attempting to get rid of them.

Employers are required to create a workplace that is free from harassment and discrimination. This means that managers, colleagues and outside parties affiliated with the company must treat an employee with respect. While not every offensive comment or action will be viewed legally as creating a hostile workplace, it only takes a single especially hostile comment or action to create one.

Workers who believe that they have been the victim of sexual or other types of harassment may want to consult with an attorney who review a case to determine if an employer has engaged in such behavior. If so, a worker may be entitled to compensation.

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