Repeated sexual comments can constitute sexual harassment in New Jersey. Whether these comments are overt or suggestive, they can make a person feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or intimidated — and our seasoned employment attorneys at NJ Employment Lawyers, LLC can help you fight against them.

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm you have suffered. Our knowledgeable team can fight to protect your rights. To learn how we can help you, contact NJ Employment Lawyers, LLC today to schedule your consultation. 

Overt vs. Suggestive Sexual Comments

Sexual comments can be made in all types of ways. Generally, a sexual comment can be overt or more subtle and suggestive.

When something is overt, it means that it is open and readily apparent, rather than hidden or secretive. Therefore, when a sexual comment is overt, it means the person making the comment has no qualms or hesitations about making the comment. Usually, they know exactly what they are saying and want to get their point across clearly.

Overt sexual comments are usually those that directly concern sex, including commenting on someone’s appearance in an inappropriate way or asking someone for a sexual favor, for example. 

On the other hand, a suggestive comment is not so direct. Instead, a suggestive comment could take on several meanings but usually involves something risque. A suggestive comment is often made to make the receiver think about something sexual and feel uncomfortable.

Regardless of whether a sexual comment is overt or suggestive, there is no place for either in the workplace.

Sexual Comments Can Be Considered Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a widespread issue in the workplace. It can look different for everyone, but sexual comments are one of the most common forms of sexual harassment. 

Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other physical behaviors or verbal comments of a sexual nature. This type of harassment can take place just about anywhere but tends to happen more in work environments. 

Individuals often think sexual harassment refers exclusively to inappropriate physical touch, but verbal sexual harassment can count as well. Some examples of verbal sexual harassment include:

  • Improper comments about a person’s appearance
  • Requests for sex
  • Sexual jokes aimed at an individual
  • Sharing sexual fantasies or stories
  • Unwelcome sexual advances

Sexual comments, whether overt or suggestive, can make a person feel uncomfortable or even unsafe in the workplace. Repeated comments can seriously interfere with a person’s work performance and ability to carry on as usual. 

Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment

Concerning workplace sexual harassment, there are two types: hostile work environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment. Either of these two types of harassment can involve overt or suggestive sexual comments.

A harasser creates a hostile work environment when their sexual speech or behavior is so serious and persistent that it creates a negative work experience for the victim. In New Jersey, a hostile work environment is one that involves behaviors that a reasonable person would find abusive or intimidating. 

When a harasser creates a hostile work environment for their victim, they can do so by either using overt or suggestive sexual language.

On the other hand, quid pro quo sexual harassment usually involves sexual requests. Quid pro quo is Latin for “this for that.” Therefore, in a quid pro quo harassment situation, the harasser is typically asking for something sexual in exchange for something work-related, like a job, promotion, or raise. 

Because of the nature of quid pro quo sexual harassment, this usually involves overt sexual comments. However, a harasser may go about making their requests more suggestively.

What laws protect against sexual harassment in the workplace?

Both state and federal laws serve to protect victims of workplace sexual harassment.

On a federal level, several laws protect against discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically protects against sexual harassment.

On the state level, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) requires employers to protect their employees from discriminatory behavior. 

Usually, whether you choose to take action against your employer at the state or federal level depends on your company’s size and your particular situation.

Contact a Seasoned Employment Attorney Now

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, you have options. 

After reporting your harassment to your employer, you might have the opportunity to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights (NJDCR). Depending on the outcome, you may also have the right to file a lawsuit against your employer.

Determining how to proceed with your sexual harassment case can be challenging, but an employment attorney is available to provide knowledgeable guidance and support.

The attorneys at NJ Employment Lawyers, LLC have extensive experience helping victims of sexual harassment. Our New Jersey employment attorneys can help you pursue the fairest possible resolution for your case. Contact us today to get started.