We all have the right to work in an environment free of unwanted sexual advances and the discomfort created by workplace hostility. Be that as it may, and even though sexual harassment is prohibited by both state and federal laws, our Morristown sexual harassment attorneys still see harassment happen to our clients far too often.

With that being said, if you were sexually harassed or are a victim of a hostile work environment, contact our Morristown employment lawyers right away. Our experienced attorneys will fight to make sure your rights are protected.

Defending Your Rights if You’ve Been Sexually Harassed at Work

Victims of sexual harassment or those working in conditions where sexually-based comments and conversations are the norm are affected in several ways. For one, personal relationships can suffer, as the victim may withdraw due to a prevailing sense of guilt or shame.

Sexual harassment targets also suffer professionally. They may experience retaliation for standing up for themselves or saying no to unwarranted sexual advances. Many feel it is difficult to perform at their best in a cruel work environment or to help a company that is ignoring their complaints, but their poorer performance could, unfortunately, limit legitimate career opportunities and advancements.

Understanding what constitutes sexual harassment can help you identify it and speak up to stop it. The sexual harassment attorneys at NJ Employment Lawyers can help you understand your legal options if you cannot get the situation resolved through your company’s reporting procedures alone.

Sexual Harassment Takes Two Forms

Many people understand what overt sexual harassment is. They may have seen a training video with a male boss asking his female secretary to perform sexual acts “or else,” but that is not the only type of workplace sexual harassment that someone may be a victim of.

Sexual harassment also includes:

  • Unwelcome comments about one’s appearance or sexual comments about a person
  • Sexual advances or uncomfortable staring at parts of one’s body
  • Physical contact, either touching sexual parts of one’s body or deliberately making contact intended to self-gratify

It is important to understand that it isn’t just women who are sexual harassment victims, though. Men, too, may be victims and are more often reluctant to speak up. In some cases, sexual harassment escalates, crossing the line to sexual assault or sexual abuse, which are felonies in New Jersey state.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

A quid pro quo (Latin for “what for whom”) is an exchange of favors. In the context of sexual harassment at work, it often takes the form of trading sexual favors for professional advancement or other preferential treatments, such as:

  • Promotions or lateral moves that can help advance one’s career
  • Perks, like a larger office, higher expense account, or travel opportunities
  • Better clients or a more profitable sales territory
  • Assignment to better projects

There is an inherent power imbalance with quid pro quo sexual harassment, as the party requesting the sexual favors has the ability to grant certain workplace benefits. Along with this power imbalance comes an unspoken (or sometimes voiced) threat that if the target does not comply, they will lose their job.

A Hostile Work Environment Due to Sexual Harassment

Hostile workplace sexual harassment lacks the transactional aspect of a quid pro quo and can sometimes be overlooked or waved away as just a joke, but if the sexually-charged behavior or conversation becomes pervasive enough, it can make it much harder for those who are targets to continue doing a good job at work.

Behaviors that can create a hostile work environment include any of the following:

  • Making sexist remarks or derogatory comments based on one’s gender
  • Making sexual comments about one’s appearance
  • Using sex as a form of humor (i.e., dirty jokes)
  • Viewing or sharing pornographic images at work (even on personal devices)
  • Repeatedly asking someone out, even after being told no

Any type of unwanted advance, conversation about sex, or sexual remark can lead to a hostile workplace situation.

Sexual conversations in shared workspaces or the employee break room can make the workplace extremely uncomfortable for many victims. Some may feel like they may be a target for harassment if they speak up. If a business owner permits this type of hostile work environment to persist, they can be held liable in court.

Damages You May Be Eligible for in a Sexual Harassment Claim

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) makes sexual harassment at work or the creation of a hostile work environment illegal. New Jersey’s labor laws also provide a vehicle for victims of sexual harassment to get justice and compensation for losses if their company does not stop the harassment.

Many victims also suffer financially because of workplace sexual harassment; you and your Morristown sexual harassment lawyer can file a suit for lost wages if you have missed work because of the harassment or if you missed out on promotions and raises for declining sexual advances and non-economic damages for the emotional trauma of the abuse.

Schedule an Appointment with a Skilled Morristown Employment Law Attorney

If you were sexually harassed in your workplace or subject to a hostile work environment, contact NJ Employment Lawyers today for a free consultation with a Morristown sexual harassment lawyer. We can help you understand your legal options and explain the sexual harassment claims process.