Sexual harassment in the workplace is common and can occur in many forms. Repeated unwanted advances, inappropriate comments, and attempts to exchange privileges for sexual favors are all considered sexual harassment and are illegal.
The U.S Supreme Court notes that a company acts through its supervisors and employment actions and therefore holds the company culpable and liable for sexual harassment. Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that investigates sexual harassment claims, considers that if a supervisor’s harassment results in firing, demotion, or other retaliatory actions, the company is also legally responsible.
Sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment, and when the harassment is perpetrated by a superior, employees often feel they have nowhere to turn for help, largely in fear that reporting may incite retaliation. Employees are protected from any form of sexual harassment at work under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).
What Should I Do if I am Being Sexually Harassed by My Supervisor?
Employees experiencing sexual harassment from a supervisor or boss often fear retaliation for reporting the offenses and choose not to report. Reporting is a protected right and employers are forbidden from retaliating against employees who do so. Steps you can take to end and report the harassment include:
- Document: A vital step in reporting harassment is documenting the occurrences to build your claim. Write down what occurred, what was said or done, date and time, and other pertinent details. Protect your document from being seen by others by storing it in a safe place, and do not mention it to coworkers.
- Follow policy: Reporting procedures can differ among companies, so refer to and follow your employer’s policies.
- Report to HR: Generally, when reporting a sexual harassment claim, you would initially report to your supervisor or boss unless that person is the perpetrator. In such cases, report to HR, who are required to investigate. In companies without HR, report it to whomever oversees employee issues.
- Maintain communication: When communicating with your supervisor, HR, and any others involved, try to do so in writing, such as an email, in order to document and keep all communications for evidence.
- Consult an attorney: Sexual harassment law is complex, and it is in your best interest to involve an attorney early on to help you determine whether you have a case and the best way to proceed.
Workers who have been sexually harassed may be eligible to recover damages, such as job reinstatement, front or back pay, promotions, and compensatory and punitive damages. If your cases is successful, you may also be awarded compensation for attorney fees and court costs. Successful cases also have the added benefit of promoting positive changes in the workplace.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Represent Clients Experiencing Sexual Harassment by a Supervisor
Sexual harassment from any individual at work is damaging and unlawful, but when it is your supervisor, you may feel you cannot fight back. If you are experiencing workplace sexual harassment, our experienced South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC can help you protect yourself and stand up against your employer. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Atlantic City and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.