What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment encompasses many types of unwelcome behaviors aimed at making an individual feel uncomfortable.

Sexual harassment can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of age, gender, or race. It can occur in any situation, including in the workplace.

What are the types of sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment takes on many forms. Harassers often perform several behaviors to make a person feel uneasy. Some common types of sexual harassment include:

  • Sexual advances
  • Physical touch of a sexual nature
  • Verbal communication in a sexual context
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Discussion of sexual stories, relations, or fantasies
  • Exposing oneself
  • Performing sexual acts upon oneself in front of another person
  • Sharing sexually explicit photos or videos
  • Pressuring someone to engage in sexual relations

This list is not all-encompassing, as behaviors that could be labeled sexual harassment are plentiful. If someone is acting or speaking in an inappropriate way that makes you feel awkward, tense, or nervous, there is a chance you are being sexually harassed.

Who is legally responsible for sexual harassment by a supervisor? What about a coworker?

Every company or workplace handles sexual harassment differently. In a majority of companies, the Human Resources (HR) department is in charge of handling issues within the workplace, including claims of sexual harassment.

This is usually true whether you’re being sexually harassed by a supervisor or a coworker.

Am I entitled to compensation for my sexual harassment?

Depending on your situation, you may be entitled to compensation for your sexual harassment. You can seek damages from the parties responsible, including your employer and the individual harassing you.
While every case is different, some of the damages you may be eligible for include compensation for:

  • Lost wages
  • Emotional distress
  • Legal fees

If your situation is particularly egregious, you may also be entitled to punitive damages.

What should employers do to prevent and address harassment?

While many believe harassment is not preventable, it can be in some situations. Employers should employ strict policies regarding sexual harassment in the workplace with clear instructions for reporting. Additionally, it is important to make employees feel comfortable about stepping forward should they feel harassed.

If harassment occurs, employers should make it a priority to address the harassment to make it stop. Taking swift action not only addresses the issue at hand but can also deter employees from acting in such a way.

What is the procedure to report sexual harassment?

Typically, you start by reporting sexual harassment to your supervisor or HR department. If no action is taken, you can file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.

If neither agency can resolve your issue but recognizes a valid claim exists, they can give you the right to file a lawsuit.

Should I report harassment to the EEOC?

You may report your harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission should your employer fail to investigate or properly handle your sexual harassment claim.

Can I be retaliated against for filing a sexual harassment claim?

No — retaliation of any sort is unlawful. You can also file a claim with the EEOC should you be retaliated against for making a formal sexual harassment complaint.

Is it sexual harassment to ask a co-worker on a date?

Asking someone out on a date is not a form of sexual harassment. However, if they say no, it is important to respect their decision.

Are lewd or sexual jokes a form of harassment?

It depends. In many cases, if the sexual jokes are aimed at someone or make someone feel uncomfortable, they could be interpreted as harassment, especially if other unacceptable behaviors accompany them.

Are comments on my clothing or appearance a form of sexual harassment?

These types of comments could be forms of sexual harassment, especially if they are sexual in nature and make you uneasy.

Should I get a lawyer to help me with my sexual harassment case?

Absolutely. An attorney can provide legal guidance and advice, helping you reach the most beneficial outcome for your situation.

Our Sexual Harassment FAQ Doesn’t Have What You Need? Contact Our New Jersey Employment Law Attorneys

We try and have all of the common questions on this sexual harassment FAQ, but we understand that your situation may need specifics. At Castronovo & McKinney, we have a proven history of successfully resolving employment law claims in and out of the courtroom. If the sexual harassment FAQ failed to answer your question, trust our legal team to always work in your best interests and make sure your questions are answered and your rights are protected. Contact us today so we can better address your question.