Sexual harassment of administrative assistants in the workplace is an issue that touches every profession, including, at times, elected officials who are tasked with seeking justice for victims of domestic abuse and sex crimes. One of the more notorious allegations involving sexual harassment of an administrative assistant, for example, has come from Tara Reade, previous staff assistant to Joe Biden in his Senate office in 1993. Reade has described Biden engaging in inappropriate activities such as resting his hands on her shoulders, running his fingers along her neck, and commenting on her legs. While some find her allegations to be lacking in credibility, there have been other accusations from several women who also worked for Biden, alleging that he also made them uncomfortable by kissing or touching them inappropriately.
What Does Sexual Harassment Look Like in an Administrative Workplace?
While sexual harassment is often fact-specific and depends upon the specific circumstances involved in a given situation, in an administrative workplace, it can often appear in the form of comments about appearances, conversations about sex, displays of degrading material (such as pornography or pictures), someone being followed, rape, requests for sexual favors, rumors that are spread about someone’s sex life, sexist comments, sexual assault, stares, suggestive texts, emails, or other communications, threats, unwanted touching, vulgar language, innuendos, or jokes, and/or similar conduct.
Types of Harassment Recognized by the Courts
The courts in New Jersey have recognized two specific categories of sexual harassment claims, including:
- Quid pro quo: When an employer makes an employee’s submission to their sexual advances a condition of their employment
- Hostile work environment: When the employer harasses an employee to the point where the work environment becomes hostile
Tara Reade, for example, filed a formal complaint, alleging that her superiors not only discriminated against her, but created a hostile work environment.
What Should I do if I Have Been Sexually Harassed at Work?
If you have concerns that you have been subjected to sexual harassment, make sure that you keep meticulous records of everything that is said and occurs, i.e. logs of what has happened. This should include dates, names, and specifics of what was said and/or done.
Consulting an attorney who has experience in bringing sexual harassment cases is also a good idea, as this will help ensure that you make strategic decisions in terms of any complaints with your employer and/or the EEOC or your union, etc. With the assistance of your attorney’s advice, you may discover that, in fact, the sexual harassment you have endured rises to the level of criminal conduct, and it is appropriate to report it to law enforcement instead. Your attorney can discuss a number of your options with you, as well as their pros and cons, allowing you to decide what the appropriate avenue is for you personally; whether that involves a lawsuit or other remedy.
Contact Our New Jersey Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Attorneys
If you have any questions about sexual harassment in the workplace, contact the attorneys of McOmber McOmber & Luber today to find out how we can help.