Of all kinds of workplace harassment, sexual harassment is by far the most common. Each year, thousands of people are affected by unwanted sexual advances, abuse, and more at the hands of their bosses and coworkers.
While sexual harassment plagues the modern workplace, it’s often unclear what rights you have to protect yourself. Read on for more information about workplace sexual harassment, and find out how to get help today.
What Exactly is Sexual Harassment?
Understanding what constitutes sexual harassment is the first step in eliminating it.
Under New Jersey law, sexual harassment is considered a form of gender-based discrimination. Both the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) strictly prohibit all forms of discrimination in the workplace, meaning sexual harassment is a very serious crime.
While the term “sexual harassment” often refers to physical harassment of a sexual nature, it can go further than that. Sexual harassment also encompasses harassment based on a person’s sex or gender—no physical element necessary. Additionally, harassers can be either the same or opposite sex as the victims; whether they are clients, subordinates, bosses or coworkers makes no difference to the law’s effects.
Forms of Workplace Sexual Harassment
The state of New Jersey recognizes that sexual harassment can take many forms. Some common examples include, but are not limited to:
- Paying a person less or refusing to promote them based on their sex
- Unwanted sexual innuendos or conversations
- Using sexist slurs
- Deliberately making the workplace uncomfortable for someone based on their sex
- Trading promotions or other advancements for sexual favors (this is referred to as quid pro quo harassment)
- The retaliatory firing or punishing of an employee who has complained about sexual harassment
- Sending sexual messages or photos
- Physical and verbal abuse
- Forced physical contact, including rubbing and patting
What Makes a Hostile Work Environment?
The key element in any sexual harassment case is whether or not the behavior in question has created a hostile work environment. As annoying as they may be, isolated incidents or teasing are generally not considered to be sexual harassment.
For a hostile work environment to be met, several factors must be present:
- The harassment is extremely severe or pervasive and makes the employee feel like their job is at risk
- An adverse employment decision is made (for example, the victim is fired)
- The victim is a member of a protected class
If the sexual harassment has indeed created a hostile work environment, the victim may file an NJLAD claim.
Get Help From an Experienced NJ Sexual Harassment Lawyer
No one should have to suffer through sexual harassment in the workplace. Fortunately, there are experienced sexual harassment lawyers who are qualified to help you understand your rights and find the best course of action to take moving forward. Contact McOmber McOmber & Luber today for a free consultation.