Sexual Harassment & Discrimination

Sexual harassment is still alive in the workplace. Male boss and female subordinate? Female boss and male subordinate? Same sex harassment? We have seen all kinds of sexual harassment, from repeated uncomfortable comments to extreme demands for physical gratification. Documentation is key – keep a journal detailing instances of inappropriate sexual harassment, including the dates, what happened and any witnesses. Look to gather other evidence of the sexual harassment. Are you able to obtain an audio recording of the harassment? An admission from your harasser via audio recording, email or text message? Has your employer been contacting you on an outside community board such as Facebook?

Sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace are illegal under federal, state and local laws. Under the law, sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance or conduct on the job that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. Examples of sexual harassment and discrimination include your boss or any higher-up pressuring for sex or touching you in an offensive manner; repeated offensive comments; and display of pornography. There are generally two types of sexual harassment recognized by the law: “quid pro quo” and “hostile work environment.” “Quid pro quo”, translates as “this for that” and signifies a trade, such as sex in return for a promotion. It is illegal for a superior to demand sex in exchange for benefits in the workplace or as a condition of employment. Employees are also protected from retaliation for complaints about harassment or discrimination.

“Hostile work environment” harassment includes any situation in which an employer, supervisor or co-worker engages in conduct that makes an employee feel uncomfortable and is in some way based on the employee’s sex or gender. Although a hostile work environment may exist simultaneously with a quid pro quo situation, a hostile work environment can occur without any demand for sex in exchange for an employment benefit. Courts have found that sexual jokes, offensive pictures, unwanted touching, leering, and requests for dates constitute sexual harassment in certain cases. The conduct must be offensive and unwanted by the victim. While sexual discrimination most often affects women in the workplace, men are also protected by sexual harassment and discrimination laws. The attorneys at Pelton & Associates PC have represented both men and women in sexual harassment claims.

Sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims can be hard to prove. For this reason, it is crucial to document every episode of harassment and collect as much evidence as possible regarding your employment situation. If you believe you have suffered severe sexual harassment or discrimination, contact Pelton & Associates, PC to discuss your legal options.