Even though the media has examined the issue of sexual harassment and many big-name celebrities have been outed with charges, it is not always easy to recognize the many forms of sexual harassment present in workplaces. Many victims experience it, but are not fully aware or may not be willing to confront it. They may fear acting against the perpetrators. Either way, it is against the law and no one should have to suffer from it.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals from sexual harassment, a form of sex discrimination. This Act is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and specifies that sexual harassment includes requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, and physical or verbal behaviors of a sexual nature that is a condition of employment, affects one’s work, or creates a hostile work environment.
The Importance of Increasing Awareness
Those that work in human resources are learning new ways to prevent workplace sexual harassment, beginning with promoting increased awareness. Employees that are armed with information and tools to identify and address sexual harassment can become empowered to speak up. They may not realize that not all harassers are those in positions of authority, and it can happen regardless of the offender’s sex or gender. Furthermore, an employee does not have to be the direct target of the harassment to feel its effects.
Quid Pro Quo
One category of sexual harassment is quid pro quo, defined as something for something. This can happen if an authority figure decides to offer or take away something from an employee in return for sexual favors. For example, if a CEO tells an administrative assistant that she will only receive a promotion if she performs sexual favors, this is quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Hostile work environments are also caused by various situations. This can apply to an offender that repeatedly stares or makes sexual gestures, makes obscene comments, and uses sexual terms. These actions can escalate to unwanted physical contact, such as hugging and touching, discussing one’s sex life, or sending sexual images through email and text messages.
No matter the company size, all employers must take steps to prevent workplace sexual harassment. In addition to following federal laws, there are state laws that govern sexual harassment. New Jersey follows the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which extends protection to individuals of a protected class. One of the most basic preventative measures is to have a sexual harassment policy, and to enforce it. Employee education and training take this a step further, with ongoing, open communication about the topic.
All levels of management should be involved with this process and should be taught to model appropriate behaviors. There should be a clear way to report incidences of sexual harassment, and a non-retaliation policy. Regular audits of the system that encourage employee feedback will also help reduce the occurrences of workplace sexual harassment.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Protect Victims of Sexual Harassment
If you are facing workplace sexual harassment, contact the Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. today. We will fight for your rights and obtain the justice you deserve. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Marlton, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel. For a free consultation, call us at 215-569-1999 or complete our online form.