Most people know that sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of discrimination based on sex. This includes unwelcome sexual advances, offers or requests for sex and other verbal or physical acts which are sexual in nature. However, few people know that the federal prohibition against workplace sexual harassment was enshrined into law by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of that legislation made it unlawful for employers with 15 or more employees to participate or allow that type of behavior in their business.
Title VII also applies those same standards to state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations and, of course, the federal government.
It is important to remember that one of the most overlooked aspects of sexual harassment law is that it is based largely on how a reasonable person would feel under those circumstances. This means that what may seem like an innocent joke to some may actually create a work environment that could be considered hostile, intimidating or even offensive by others.
Traditionally, sexual harassment occurred most frequently from men harassing women. Increasingly, sexual harassment in the workplace is occurring between women harassing men and both men and women harassing members of the same sex.
Another lesser-known fact is that a sexual harassment violation does not necessarily have to be reported by the intended recipient of the harassment. In fact, you may have a sexual harassment claim if you are offended by a coworker suffering such indignities.
Additionally, the victim of sexual harassment does not need to demonstrate that he or she has suffered an economic loss or has been fired as a result of the harassment. If you are a New Jersey worker who has experienced sexual harassment, you do not necessarily have to leave your job in order to get relief. A consultation with a legal professional experienced in this field of law may help you to determine whether you have the necessary cause of action to proceed with your claim.
Source: U.S. Equal Opportunity Commision, "Facts About Sexual Harassment" Sep. 04, 2014