It’s easy for Hawaiians to feel like their own separate country out in the ocean, but in fact, our islands are subject to all of the same federal laws as every other state. This means for victims of sexual harassment, a pathway for justice exists under the law – and you can take advantage of these laws. 


If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment in the state of Hawaii, know that you have legal options. Get in touch with a qualified Hawaiian sexual harassment attorney today.


What are the laws on sexual harassment?


Nearly 60 years ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed in Washington D.C by President Lyndon B. Johnson on live television. Inside the Act is Title VII, which prohibits all sex-based discrimination in the workplace. Under Title VII, sexual harassment is considered a form of discrimination, and it applies to all companies in both the public and private sector with more than 15 employees.  


The majority of states in the country also have their own state-level laws on sexual harassment for an extra layer of protection. Hawaii has The Hawaii Fair Employment Practices Law (HFEP) that prohibits discrimination in employment “based on sex.” This includes gender identity or expression, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, sexual orientation, marital status, or domestic or sexual violence victim status. 


Unlike Title VII, HFEP applies to all employers, regardless of size. Victims of sexual harassment in smaller companies may be better off citing the state-level law instead of trying to involve Title VII. 


What is considered “sexual harassment” in the workplace? 


There are many different ways that sexual harassment can occur, and perpetrators seem to be getting more creative all the time. To simplify things, we can say that almost all sexual harassment allegations fall into two categories: 


  • Quid pro quo
  • Hostile work environment


Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when someone within an organization, usually someone with a higher status, tries to trade a job benefit to someone else in exchange for sexual favors. For example, a boss pressuring his secretary to give him sexual favors in exchange to be promoted to “Managing Director.” 


Hostile work environment is when someone is subject to some type of behavior or misconduct that puts them in a “hostile environment.” This can include, but is definitely not limited to:


  • Groping
  • Rude, sexual comments (verbal or written) 
  • Unsolicited nude photos or pornography being sent to someone’s phone or email. 
  • Spying
  • Stalking


In cases where someone is raped or molested, this can go outside the realm of “sexual harassment in the workplace” and instead be classified as assault. 


Did you experience sexual harassment in the workplace in Hawaii? 


If so, don’t waste any more time. Contact a qualified, Hawaii-based sexual harassment lawyer. Lawyers are in most towns on the islands, including Akona.

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