Most Pennsylvanians have likely heard about the #metoo movement and understand that workplace sexual harassment is illegal. However, there are many workers who are not protected under federal law from sexual harassment at their jobs.
Under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are forbidden from discriminating against workers on the basis of their protected statuses, including sex. A recognized form of sex discrimination on the job is sexual harassment. While the federal law applies to many employers and protects the people who work for them, it does not protect workers who work at small companies that have fewer than 15 employees.
Domestic workers such as housekeepers and nannies work for families, and most are unprotected by the anti-discrimination provisions of the federal law. Similarly, many farm laborers are also unprotected. This means that when they are sexually harassed at their jobs, they do not enjoy the same legal protections as other employees who work for larger companies. This issue prompted 200 women who work in unprotected workplaces to head to Capitol Hill on April 24 in an effort to secure protection under the law.
While the federal law currently only governs employers with 15 or more employees, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act covers employers with four or more employees. This means that people who have been sexually harassed at small workplaces may be protected under state law even if they are not under federal law. People who have been sexually harassed while they were working might want to talk to experienced employment lawyers who may help their clients to determine whether they should pursue claims under federal or state law.