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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual Harassment is a type of Gender Discrimination that can occur in many different forms and manners although it is absolutely illegal. It is unlawful for a manager, supervisor, an employer, business owner or even co-worker to Sexually Harass you.  Furthermore, sexual harassment is also illegal, whether it is opposite-sex or same-sex harassment. Sexual Harassment is a very serious violation of a person that often causes extreme stress, irritability, anxiety, depression and misery.  No one has the right to violate and make you feel in such a manner. There are two types of sexual harassment, Hostile Work Environment claims and Quid Pro Quo claims.

Hostile Work Environment

Hostile Work Environment occurs from sexual harassment (by way of words, acts or physical contact) that is so pervasive or severe that it prevents you from doing your regular work. Many employees become the victim of a hostile work environment without even realizing it. Even though sexual harassment may be very harsh at times (being touching in a sexual manner or at your private areas or being propositioned or spoken to by harsh vulgar sexual words), sexual harassment can also consist of many overt and subtle acts and words such as a person staring you down. In addition, at times Sexual Harassment can start with what appears to be innocent remarks or even compliments like, “you look good” or “you’re so pretty”, and end up with rather harsh comments like, “you get me excited”, “I bet your good in bed,” “you have a nice a–”,etc.

Although it is not illegal for a co-worker or supervisor to ask you on a date (many people do meet in this manner) it is illegal to use harsh, vulgar, or explicitly sexual words. In addition, once a person declines a request for a date, it must stop there. For a man or woman to insist that you go out with them or imply repercussion if you don’t is severe form of sexual harassment.

With regard to touching, although it may not be illegal for someone to shake your hand or touch your arm, etc., it is highly illegal for someone to touch your breasts, buttocks or crotch area. There are also subtle forms of sexual conduct that is illegal like rubbing against someone in addition to other acts that can be deemed illegal sexual conduct.

Sexual harassment is not limited to words and touching. A person can be sexually harassed without being touched or spoken to. For example, a supervisor exposing himself (showing genitals) to a worker, or a man trying to stare down a woman’s blouse, staring at her chest, or trying to look up her dress are also severe cases of sexual harassment.

If you become the target of unwanted sexual advances, harsh words, insults, threats, demeaning comments about your sex / gender, your looks, your body parts or if you have been touched in a manner that makes you feel uncomfortable, you have been sexually harassed and should call the Akin Law Group immediately. All of the examples given above are forms of illegal sexual harassment that is causing a hostile work environment for the employee.

In addition, if you received unfavorable reviews, if your job has been made more difficult, and/or if you have even terminated (fired from your job) or threatened with termination, then you have also been the victim of illegal retaliation in addition to illegal sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is not limited to words alone. Often, an individual can be the target of sexual harassment by being touched on in an offensive or sexual manner without their consent, even if the touching does not involve the harasser’s hands (touching someone with an object, rubbing against an individual, standing too close as to violate your space, etc.).  Some examples of unwelcomed touching are: slapping someone on the buttocks (claiming its a joke), massaging an individual without their consent, brushing against a woman’s breast with hands/arms, touching someone’s leg / knee / groin, kissing someone without their consent (lips or elsewhere), etc.  Even a single act that is highly offensive may qualify as sexual harassment.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment.

By way of comparison, Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment is much clearer and easier to identify than cases involving a Hostile Work Environment. “Quid Pro Quo” is a Latin term in law meaning you give “something for something” in return. By way of example, a manager telling a subordinate that she will get a raise only if she agrees to have sex with him or, in a more subtle manner, a woman business owner telling a male clerk that she has to lay some people off and then following the remark with, “how about giving me a message” are both forms of direct and subtle quid pro quo sexual harassment. Anytime your work or working condition is made contingent upon a sexual act (from dating to having intercourse), it is illegal and constitutes quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Often times, victims of quid pro quo sexual harassment, have employment ranks that are significantly inferior to the harasser.  The harasser is often in a position where they can promote or terminate the employee.  These harassers often pray on workers that either need their job to provide for themselves and their families, and/or have made a mistake at work which could have repercussions (including termination), and/or are submissive and afraid to confront such a powerful harasser.  With Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment, the harasser (usually men) often feels he can make sexual demands on the subordinate worker (usually woman although it can be another man) because of the leverage the harasser has at work. Do not become a victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment. Your boss and/or your manager cannot force you to submit to their sexual demands even if you made a mistake at work or did something wrong.  If you feel that you have been the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment, call the Akin Law Group without delay.


Often times people that are victims of sexual harassment by the creation of a hostile work environment and those that are the victims of quid pro quo sexual harassment, are afraid to tell the harasser to stop or to report the harasser fearing retaliation. Retaliation occurs when the harasser that is told “no”, or told to “stop” either fires the employee, gives the employee a bad review, changes their shift, reduces their hours or takes some other action that is an adverse change in the employees working conditions. Retaliation is illegal and actionable. A person that engages in sexual harassment has committed one wrong act and by retaliating they are committing a second wrongful act which is separately actionable.

Even if you are wrong about the act being sexual harassment, if you are being retaliated for reporting the harasser, you will have a claim against the harasser even if the act that you complained of was not necessarily sexual harassment or “severe enough.”  A claim for retaliation is separate and distinct from the underlying claim of sexual harassment.

In the event you suspect sexual harassment or retaliation, call the Akin Law Group and put our employment layers to work for you. The initial consultation is always free and confidential. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by speaking to one of our employment attorneys without delay.

Call the Akin Law Group

In the event you have been sexually harassed (quid pro quo or hostile work environment), or been retaliated for opposing sexual harassment, you should immediately call the Akin Law Group, one of the most recognized firms in the area of Employment Law in New York and New Jersey.

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