Sexual Harassment

Being sexually
harassed at work?
Being sexually harassed at work?

With the advent of the “Me Too” movement, sexual harassment was thrust into the media spotlight like never before. The brave women and men who came forward to discuss their stories launched a national dialogue about sexual harassment and significant backlash against offenders. New Jersey recognizes sexual harassment in any form as illegal. Whether you have been inappropriately touched, subjected to lewd comments, intimidated based on your sex, threatened with retaliation for speaking up or reporting sexual harassment, or been offered a raise or promotion for sexual interaction, you are not alone or without recourse. The experienced New Jersey sexual harassment lawyers at Peterpaul Law, LLP. are here to help you hold the offender(s) accountable for their behavior and we will fight tirelessly for the justice you deserve.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This definition, provided in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines, has been accepted in New Jersey and used in the NJ State Harassment Policy. Under this policy, it is considered a violation to engage in sexual or gender-based harassment in any form, including hostile work environment harassment, quid pro quo harassment, and same-sex harassment.

Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment

Hostile work environment sexual harassment is said to occur when an employer or any agent of an employer, subjects an employee to sexual, offensive, or abusive conduct because of their gender. This behavior is the foundation for a hostile or abusive workplace that impedes an employee’s ability to perform their job function free from detrimental interference. Hostile work environment sexual harassment can be carried out implicitly or explicitly and need not involve physical or sexual contact. Making comments about a person’s gender or any condition that may be associated with their individual characteristics protected under the New Jersey Laws Against Discrimination is strictly prohibited. This includes statements related to a person’s physical appearance, dress, or lifestyle choices.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employee is offered a promotion, a salary increase, professional advancement, or other benefit in the workplace in exchange for a sexual relationship, favors, or sexually-charged attention. It also includes threats to take negative action, such as demotions or poor evaluations, if the individual refuses unwelcome advances. Lastly, same-sex harassment includes words or actions of a sexual nature among individuals of the same sex. Conditions and standards are applied in the same way, regardless of the respective genders of those involved.

How does Sexual Harassment
Happen in New Jersey?

Sexual harassment can be perpetrated by anyone, including superiors, clients, colleagues, and lower-level co-workers. If another person makes you feel demeaned, objectified, uncomfortable, intimidated, or violated based on your gender, you may have grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit. It is important to note that sexual harassment may be perceived by others as positive or negative.

For instance, compliments regarding a person’s physical appearance or desirability are absolutely considered harassment if you are made to feel inferior or uncomfortable by another individual in a work setting. Negative comments regarding an entire gender, such as “women are always…” may be considered sexual harassment as well. Moreover, sexual harassment can be perpetrated through physical conduct, verbal statements, phone calls or messages, gestures, e-mails, letters, notes, text messages, and social media messages.

In general, sexual harassment may involve:
• Explicit or implicit conduct communicating that sexual reciprocity is a necessary condition of employment
• Demonstrating that refusal to engage or accept such conduct may negatively impact employment decisions
• Conduct that creates an aggressive environment or sexual undertones in the workplace
• Sexually-related words or behavior that interferes with a person’s work performance or could reasonably be inferred to do so

Examples of Sexual Harassment in NJ Workplaces

The following are some examples of sexual harassment for your reference:

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SExual Harassment Specialists