Harassment Because of Your Gender
Sexual harassment is a form of workplace harassment that is directed at you because you are a woman or a man. It is often sexual in nature, but it does not have to be. For example, sexual harassment can include harassment that is based on stereotypes about women or men, insults or name-calling that is directed at you because of your gender, or other unwelcome behavior toward you because you are a woman or a man. It does not matter if the person harassing you is a man or a woman as long as he or she is harassing you because of your gender.
Sexual harassment is often coupled with other forms of unlawful gender discrimination, such as demoting you, passing you up for a promotion, or wrongfully terminating you because of your gender.Sexual Harassment
Of course, sexual harassment also can be sexual in nature. For example, inappropriate comments about your body, unwelcome sexual glances or stares, inappropriate physical touching, unwanted sexual overtures, propositions or advances, sexually explicit or pornographic pictures, stories or jokes, unwelcome flirting or sexual banter, or almost any other unwanted sexual behavior by a coworker or supervisor can be part of a sexually hostile work environment.
When is Sexual Harassment Legally Actionable?
Not all offensive workplace conduct based on your gender is unlawful. The harassment has to be severe (bad enough), or pervasive (frequent enough) to make your working conditions hostile or abusive. Accordingly, a sexually harassment claim can be based on one extremely severe act of harassment, such as a sexual assault at work, or a series of actions that might not be so bad individually but happen frequently that together they create a hostile work environment.
Although sexually harassment is often committed by an employee’s supervisor or someone else in a position of power, harassment by a coworker can be illegal too. However, generally employers cannot be held responsible for sexual harassment committed by one of your peers or subordinates unless management is aware of the harassment and fails to stop it. Another important consideration in sexual harassment cases is whether the company has an effective anti-harassment policy, a topic that is discussed in our blog article: Jury Must Decide Whether Anti-Harassment Policy Protects Employer From Sexual Harassment Claim.
Protection Against Retaliation
Employees who complain about sexual harassment in the workplace are legally protected from retaliation. In both New Jersey and New York, it is a violation of your employment law rights for your employer to retaliate against you if you complain behavior that you honestly believe is sexually harassment. This is true whether or not you personally were a victim of the harassment, witnessed the harassment, or merely heard about it from a coworker.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: Nobody Should Feel Sex is a Job RequirementAnother form of sexual harassment is when your boss states or implies that sex or being in romantic relationship is a condition of keeping your job, getting a promotion, or otherwise succeeding at work. That kind of sexual harassment is called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, and it violates the law in both New York and New Jersey. No employee should be required to trade sex for career advancement!
If you have experienced quid pro quo or any other form of sexual harassment at your job, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Our telephone number is (201) 487-2700.
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