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Sexual Harassment/Hostile Work Environment

Unfortunately, sexual harassment claims in the workplace have been on a steady incline over the past decade. This most likely because more women are included in the work force now than ever before. Even though sexual harassment can involve any combination of gender, women are most commonly the victims of this harassment.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Sometimes sexual harassment can be a quid pro quo exchange where the harasser can request sexual favors in exchange for benefits or to prevent adverse action. In most cases, though, sexual harassment involves a hostile work environment where the victim is subject to severe and pervasive conduct that negatively alters the terms and conditions of their work.

What can I do if my workplace environment is offensive, demeaning and threatening?

It is always important to object to such behavior and make it clear to your employer and/ or the harasser that this behavior is unwelcome.

If I work in a hostile work environment, can I just quit?

It is never advisable to quit a job. However, if your workplace is so hostile that it changes the terms and conditions of your employment, and a reasonable person could not work under similar conditions, you may be forced to not return. Under these circumstances, you are considered to have been “constructively discharged”. Before you decide to take such action, you should consult an experienced attorney who can properly review your circumstances and advise you accordingly.

Can my employer terminate me for objecting to sexual harassment?

Yes. However, if they do, you may be able to seek damages for retaliation.

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