Most people are already aware that both state and federal laws prohibit sex discrimination in the workplace. What some people fail to realize is that sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination. The legal definition of sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and creates an adverse working condition or a hostile work environment. Is important to know that the conduct can be either verbal, visual, nonverbal or physical, just as long as it is unwelcome.
Some examples of conduct that might be classified as sexual harassment include commenting on a person’s clothing or his or her body in a sexual way. Another form of sexual harassment is spreading rumors about a person’s sex life. A joke told about how a female employee’s body looks in her yoga pants would definitely qualify as conduct that would create an adverse working condition for that victim.
Not all conduct has to be verbal in order to be offensive, it just has to be of a sexual nature, pervasive and unwelcomed. For example, a female employee who constantly stares at her male colleague’s crotch area may be engaging in prohibited behavior. Making sexually suggestive gestures using hands and facial expressions can also cross the line into unwelcomed behavior. Another tactic sexual harassers might employ is blocking or impeding their victims in confined areas like hallways or elevators.
Sexual-harassment claims are often difficult to prove, especially in cases where the conduct is nonverbal. That’s why it is important for victims to begin a paper trail keeping track of each instance of harassment. It is also important that victims communicate to their harassers that they find their conduct offensive and want it stop.
Many victims are reluctant to put their harassers on notice that their sexual harassment is unwelcomed. Many fear termination or that they will be passed over for promotion. If this is happening to you at your workplace, you need to know that there are laws that prevent retaliatory action against individuals who report sexual-harassment.
Located in Nutley since 1969, our law firm is experienced in representing clients in sexual harassment based litigation. Four of the 11 attorneys at our firm are certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as Civil Trial Attorneys. Whether a case is in Essex County or another city in New Jersey, prospective clients should know that we have prior experience going up against private employers, corporations and municipal entities.