Bergen County

New Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyer

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment at Work?

Unwanted touching, groping, pinching, and kissing are clear examples of sexual harassment in the workplace. However, an action need not be so overt to constitute sexual harassment. In fact, sexual harassment does not need to involve a physical action at all. On the contrary, many instances of sexual harassment involve inappropriate verbal remarks or written statements, such as jokes between co-workers, or email messages that are circulated to employees. Examples of statements or actions that could constitute sexual harassment, especially when recurring, include but are not limited to:

  • Asking you out on dates, or asking for your personal phone number.
  • Asking or joking about your romantic life.
  • Complimenting or insulting your physical appearance, such as your body, hairstyle, makeup, or outfit.
  • Displaying or circulating lewd, obscene, or pornographic imagery or content.
  • Making generalizations, or stereotyping, based on your gender and/or sexual orientation.
  • Making jokes or telling stories of a lewd or sexual nature.
  • Offering to grant – or conversely, threatening to withhold – promotions, raises, vacation time, or other perks and rewards based on the performance of sexual favors.
  • Threatening to fire you, or to spread false and malicious rumors, if you do not perform sexual favors.

It is important to emphasize that, though pervasive, male-to-female sexual harassment is not the only form harassment can take. Sexual harassment can also be directed at a man by a woman, at a man by another man, or at a woman by another woman. Further, the harasser can be physically smaller and less powerful than the victim. Similarly, though the harasser is often a person in a position of authority over the victim, such as the victim’s boss or direct supervisor, the victim may have authority over the harasser, or the parties may be co-workers with equal authority in the workplace.

Regardless of factors like whether the inappropriate conduct is heterosexual or homosexual in nature, whether the harasser is capable of physically overpowering or coercing the victim, or whether the harasser has authority or financial power over the victim, the bottom line is that sexual comments and actions in the workplace frequently constitute serious violations of state and/or federal employment laws, such as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). Even if you are not certain as to whether the treatment you experienced would be considered sexual harassment from a legal standpoint, or which law the harasser may have violated, we urge you to contact our law offices for a free consultation.

attorney usmaan sleemi
Usmaan Sleemi
Usmaan Sleemi

Forms of Sexual Harassment: Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Work Environment

As the previous section emphasized, sexual harassment can manifest itself in many different ways. Despite these variations, most sexual harassment cases in New Jersey ultimately fall into one of two broad categories:

  1. Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment – Persistent sexual comments or innuendo can create an intimidating, uncomfortable, and extremely distressing work environment for the victim of the harassment. When sexual harassment creates this sort of atmosphere, it is referred to as a “hostile work environment.” Other forms of discrimination, mockery, or bullying, such as racial discrimination or age-based discrimination, can also create a hostile work environment for the victim.
  2. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment – “Quid pro quo” is a Latin term which, translated literally, means “this for that.” In general English usage, it connotes an offer to perform a favor in exchange for receiving a favor. An example of quid pro quo sexual harassment would be offering to give you a raise, or to give you additional job benefits, in exchange for performing a sexual act.

North Jersey Sexual Harassment Attorneys for Employees

No one should have to tolerate unwanted sexual comments or advances, including those made in the workplace, regardless of whether they are “just jokes” or “just compliments.” Do not worry about how filing a sexual harassment claim could impact your harasser or the harasser’s enablers. Simply focus on doing what is best for you, and allow our skilled New Jersey lawyers for harassment cases to aggressively assert your legal rights. We are prepared to fight tirelessly on your behalf, and will work strategically to maximize the amount of compensation you can recover.

Whether you work in finance, healthcare, technology, marketing, hospitality, education, entertainment, construction, or an entirely different industry, our sexual harassment attorneys for employees are here to help you understand your legal options. To discuss a New Jersey sexual harassment claim in a free legal consultation, call the Law Offices of Usmaan Sleemi at (973) 453-4060 today.


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