How can I Spot Sexual Harassment at Work?

Sexual harassment at work can take many forms, such as overt acts or more subtle conduct that rises to the level of an actionable offense. In New Jersey, a sexual harassment complaint may be filed under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. However, on a federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates complaints of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. This is different from simple teasing, off-hand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious and, although unfortunate, do not rise to the level of being unlawful.

When is Conduct Sexual Harassment?

No one is immune from sexual harassment. Harassment can occur between peers, a supervisor and employee, or even a worker and client.  It can occur between opposite sexes and members of the same sex. Despite making strides in earning positions of power in the workplace, many continue to face sexual harassment at work. One study found that half of women surveyed had experienced sexual harassment at work. Even more disheartening is that in 95 percent of cases, when the harasser was male, the conduct was not punished. 

Recognizing Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a power dynamic; the harasser is seeking to and enjoys exerting power over their chosen victim by making them feel uncomfortable.  There are many ways in which this dynamic manifests. Examples of conduct that has been found to be unlawful sexual harassment included: 

  • Remarks about appearance in sexually suggestive ways
  • Frequent staring, especially at breasts or buttocks
  • Invasion of personal space, such as leaning in too closely to look at a PC screen or standing very close
  • Inquiring about sexual experiences or preferences
  • Sharing pornographic images
  • Gesturing, such as winking, making kissing sounds, and whistling
  • Suggesting a promotion depends on agreeing to go on a date or to engage in a sexual act
  • Denying a promotion to a person who refuses a sexual advance

While there is no bright-line test to determine if sexual harassment has taken place, factors to consider include: 

  • Frequency and severity
  • Whether it was physically threatening or humiliating
  • Whether it interferes with the employee’s job performance

If sexual comments, conduct, or requests are unwanted, offensive to the receiver, or involve inappropriate touching, then unlawful sexual harassment has likely taken place. This is especially true if requests to refrain from unwanted behavior have been ignored. However, many targets of sexual harassment believe that they do not have permission to report the conduct or request that it stop or fear they will be retaliated against for objecting.

South Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Represent Those Experiencing Sexual Harassment at Work

Experiencing sexual harassment at work can be very upsetting and frightening.  Our experienced South Jersey sexual harassment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC are ready to evaluate your case and develop a plan to move forward. Do not wait to seek help. Located in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County. Call 856-235-7075 or complete an online form for a free consultation today.