Practice Areas

Sexual Harassment

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination or sexual preference discrimination. Sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of workplace harassment. A common misconception about sexual harassment is that it is suffered only by women. Indeed, sexual harassment impacts both women and men, and both heterosexuals and homosexuals.There are two types of sexual harassment: hostile work environment sexual harassment and quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment happens when an employee is subjected to “pervasive” or “severe” behavior that would cause a reasonable person of the same sex (or sexual preference) to feel humiliated or intimidated in a way that the terms and conditions of employment are altered.

Some examples of sexual harassment in the workplace include but are not limited to:

• Unwelcome sexual advances
• Requests for sexual relations
• Uninvited touching
• Lewd or sexual comments
• Sexually explicit material in the workplace

Sexual harassment is typically sexual in nature, but it does not have to be. Sexual harassment also includes actions and behavior based on gender stereotypes, gender bias, male or female chauvinism, or other actions due to the fact that you are a woman or a man. Anything that is particularly offensive to one gender, or is directed at you because of your gender, can contribute to a sexually hostile work environment.

Another type of sexual harassment is quid pro quo sexual harassment. This type of sexual harassment occurs when an employer or supervisor implies or states that the terms of employment are conditioned on an employee’s submission to a sexual advance or demand. For example, if your employer makes you feel as if you must give into sexual advances to keep your job, obtain a raise, advance in the company, or avoid a demotion, or other negative consequences.

Not every offensive workplace conduct based on gender is unlawful. The harassment has to be severe (serious enough), or pervasive enough to make your working environment hostile or abusive. Accordingly, a sexually harassment claim can be based on one extremely severe act of harassment, such as a sexual assault at work, or a series of actions that might not be serious on their own but occur frequently enough that together they create a hostile work environment.

At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with sexual harassment cases. If you suspect sexual harassment, tell us about your situation. Contact us online or call at 1-908-928-9200 or 1-800-586-5817