Sexual Harassment or Hostile Work Environment Claims

Sexual harassment claims are often in today’s news. Whether its Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, or an elementary school teacher, sex harassment occurs often in the work place and can be painful.

Under the law, it is unlawful to harass an employee because of the person’s gender or sex. Generally, to have a sexual harassment claim, often called a hostile work environment claim, the conduct must be offensive to not only the victim, but also be seen as offensive to any reasonable person; the conduct must also be because of the person’s sex – in other words, the hostile or offensive conduct must be because the victim is a male or female; the conduct must also be severe or pervasive under the law; and there must be a basis for employer liability in order to hold your employer responsible for the conduct.

Some of these criteria to have a claim are not so simple as they should be. Severe or pervasive offensive or hostile sexual conduct has meant different things to different courts over the years. However, the conduct usually includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Persistent obnoxious sexual comments and harassment can also be deemed to be sexual harassment. For your employer to be liable for this conduct at the hands of a co-worker, the sexual harassment should be either known to your employer (who fails to do nothing about it), or the perpetrator of the conduct should be a supervisor.

Also, male on male and female on female sexual harassment can constitute a hostile work environment under the law so long as the other criteria are met.

In our work, we have represented everyone from management, to their subordinates, to security guards, to teachers, and others in sexual harassment and hostile work environment claims. You should not be afraid to report sexual harassment because if your supervisor or employer retaliates against you for making a complaint, the employer can also be liable for the retaliation. If you are the victim of sexual harassment then call us to discuss your situation.