Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is considered a form of sexual discrimination. It can take many forms, ranging from offensively sexual jokes, to inappropriate touching, to posting sexually offensive material on a bulletin board. Under Title VII, there are two kinds of sexual harassment.
Quid pro quo is when a person in authority demands that subordinates tolerate sexual harassment as a means to keeping a job, getting a raise or any other job related benefit.
A hostile work environment happens when unwelcomed conduct takes place that is severe or consistent enough to create an abusive work environment. Only employers with 15 or more employees are subject to the provisions of Title VII. Businesses with less than 15 employees are governed by state laws.
In New Jersey, the following actions are considered sexual harassment and even a single action in any one of these circumstances may be enough to claim sexual harassment.
- Suggestive behavior
- Sexual staring or leering
- Sexual or smutty jokes
- Sexual propositions ranging from continually asking you out, asking for your phone number or asking for sexual favors
- Sexual or physical contact
- Sexual comments or insults
- Intrusive questions about sexual activity
- Sexually explicit material that is displayed in a public place or your work area.
If sexual harassment takes place, it is within your rights to speak out to stop it from happening. You can speak to the person initiating the harassment, or a supervisor or senior management. If this proves ineffective, it may be in your best interest to seek out a sexual harassment lawyer in the greater Trenton area to get immediate relief and possibly file a suit claiming a hostile work environment.
Garces, Grabler & LeBrocq is a full service New Jersey law firm with offices in Elizabeth, Freehold, Hackensack, Newark, New Brunswick, Perth Amboy, Plainfield and Trenton.