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What Does Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Look Like?

Sexual harassment can severely impact an employee’s ability to do their job. Recent years have shown the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and sexual assault in many workplaces. 

Under federal law, sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When conduct of a sexual nature changes the conditions of employment, interferes with an employee’s ability to work, or creates a hostile work environment, then it can qualify as sexual harassment. 

Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include:

  • Crude or seuxal remarks
  • Sending or displaying of pornographic material
  • Physical conduct of a sexual nature
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual relations or sexual favors

Most claims of sexual harassment fall into one of two categories. The first category involves quid pro quo claims, which arise when an employee in a position of authority, such as a supervisor, manager, or business owner, uses their position to coerce an employee to agree to sexual advances or to provide sexual favors. Victims of quid pro quo sexual harassment often feel as if they have no choice but to agree to demands for sexual behavior or risk losing their job or career opportunities. This also applies to employees who reject requests for sexual favors. 

The second category of claims are hostile work environment claims. These include claims of someone engaging in speech or conduct of a sexual nature that makes the victim feel uncomfortable in the workplace and unable to properly perform their work duties. Hostile work environments can be caused by any person present in the workplace, including owners, managers, supervisors, co-workers, vendors, business partners, and even customers. 

Who Can Be a Victim of Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. The perpetrator of sexual harassment does not need to be of the opposite sex, nor does the perpetrator of harassment have to have a sexual attraction to the victim or be sexually attracted to the victim’s sex or gender.

In addition, a victim of sexual harassment does not have to be the target of the offending conduct. It may be enough that a victim was merely in the presence of sexual conduct, such as “jokes” or remarks of a sexual nature or the display of sexual or pornographic materials, and was offendended or made uncomfortable by such conduct to the extent that it negatively impacts the victim’s ability to do their work. 

How an Attorney Can Help in a Sexual Harassment Case

Proving a claim of sexual harassment can be difficult without the assistance of an employment law attorney experienced in sexual harassment cases. An attorney can review the facts and circumstances of your case to determine whether you may have a viable claim of sexual harassment and can walk you through the processs of pursuing your claim, including filing discrimination charges with the state and with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A lawyer can help you gather the evidence you might need to prove your claim and pursue your claim against your employer if you receive a right-to-sue letter from the state or the EEOC.

Contact a Rochelle Park Labor Law Attorney for a Consultation About Sexual Harassment in New Jersey Today

An experienced labor lawyer can help you explore your options and determine the best course of action for you or your business. There are state laws in place that cover these particular types of cases. The experienced New Jersey employment law attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. understand the nuances of New Jersey and federal labor laws, so we can help you protect your interests in Hackensack, Teaneck, Fort Lee, Fair Lawn, and throughout New Jersey. Call us anytime at (201) 380-7687 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a confidential consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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