What Is Sexual Harassment?

New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania Employment Law Lawyers Answering Your Important Sexual Harassment Questions

Suffering unwanted sexual advances at work is far more traumatic than many of our clients like to admit. But what is the line between an annoyance and unlawful behavior? Our sexual harassment lawyers at the Arcé Law Group wants you to understand how the law defines sexual harassment so you feel comfortable and informed bringing your sexual harassment case to court. Before our attorneys pursue your case, we review the facts of your claim to be sure your case is worth pursuing in court. Our lawyers never want to put you through a legal ordeal unless we are confident our sexual harassment lawyers can successfully obtain compensation on your behalf.

The sexual harassment lawyers at the Arcé Law Group law firm represent clients in Newark, Jersey City, and Princeton, New Jersey. Our lawyers also handle cases in throughout New York City, New York, Washington D.C., and the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. Our group of compassionate employment law attorneys are here to guide you through the complex legal process. We are truly your EEOC advocates every step of the way.

The Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment in the States of NJ, NY and PA

Most employees in New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania are covered under some type of Civil Rights law. In New Jersey it’s the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), in New York the NYC Human Rights Law (HRL) and in Pennsylvania the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). In each state all of these laws prohibits workplace sexual harassment in any form, including:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual relations
  • Other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature

Sexual harassment can occur as an employee or as an applicant to a job. Sexual harassment does not discriminate based on your sex, age, job position, background or other features. You can be harassed as a man or women. The law covers all sexes and genders.

NJ (LAD), NY (HRL) and PA (PHRA) recognizes two types of sexual harassment. The first, known in the legal world as “quid pro quo,” is the more widely known accepted form of harassment. This is when a condition of your employment is dependent on you accepting or refusing sexual advances. So, you face being fired or demoted for rebuffing your boss’ sexual come-ons — or you were promised being hired, promoted, or receiving a pay increase for submitting to sexual advances.

The second type of harassment is “hostile work environment,” a claim which is actually accounts for the vast majority of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania sexual harassment lawsuits. When the sexual harassment creates an offensive and intimidating workplace, it may fall under this class. If your emotional security is threatened, your work performance suffers, and you are afraid to go to work, you could be facing a hostile work environment due to sexual harassment.

How Federal Law Defines Sexual Harassment

The federal definition of sexual harassment is very similar to New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws. According to the Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, harassing a person can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Some Quick NJ, NY and PA Sexual Harassment FAQs

At the Arcé Law Group, our NY, PA & NJ sexual harassment lawyers get asked a lot of questions from frustrated workers. We understand the legal boundaries surrounding sexual harassment laws are confusing. We are here to answer some of your most basic questions.

What Is Not Considered Sexual Harassment in New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania?

The law typically does not recognize “simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents.” If someone asks you on a date once and you decline, this is not sexual harassment. When a co-worker makes an inappropriate joke, this is also not sexual harassment. A one-time event is unlikely to constitute sexual harassment in the eyes of the law.

Do Sexual Harassment Laws in NY, NJ & PA Only Cover Women?

No, men can be sexually harassed in NJ, NY & PA as well.

How Does Conduct Get Classified as “Unwelcome”?

If verbal, physical, or pictorial behavior is unwanted by the intended recipient, this could be considered “unwelcome” under the law. You need to make it known to your harasser that the conduct is unwelcome. You need to say “no”, tell him or her to stop, or otherwise express that you are offended.

Does the Harassment Have to Come From My Boss?

No, you can be harassed by a supervisor, boss, co-worker, subordinate, or even a customer or client. Sexual harassment is not just a top-down problem.

Is Dating My Supervisor Sexual Harassment?

As a general rule, no. Some workplaces have specific rules prohibiting consensual sexual and romantic relationships between people in inherently unequal positions, but that does not make a these consensual relationship sexual harassment. If you were involved with your boss, ended the relationship and were subsequently fired for ending the relationship, this may be considered sexual harassment. If you are romantically involved with your boss, and he or she harasses you or physically assaults you, this could be grounds for both civil and criminal charges. Even if an employee eventually engages in consensual sex with the person who had been harassing him or her, this does not negate the fact that the behavior prior to the relationship may still be considered harassment under NJ, NY or PA sexual harassment laws. However, this could impact the outcome of the sexual harassment case.

Pick Up the Phone – You’ve Got Nothing to Lose by Contacting an NJ, NY or PA Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you have been sexually harassed at work. You deserve justice. You deserve peace of mind. Our skilled sexual harassment attorneys offer no-cost, no-obligation initial consultations and in most cases we do not take a fee unless we recover for you , so you have nothing to lose for picking up the phone. Call today at 212-248-0120 or contact us online. The Arcé Law Group operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not collect upfront fees. We only get paid if we successfully recover money on your behalf.

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