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What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in NJ?

by | Feb 14, 2023 | Business Law, Employment Law |

Victims of sexual harassment often struggle with one question: “Was it really that bad?” They may think they’re being overly sensitive or overly dramatic and avoid reporting inappropriate activity. However, sexual harassment is a crime in New Jersey, and anyone who commits it should be punished according to the law. 

Workplace sexual harassment affects millions of people annually. If you live in New Jersey and are wondering whether you have been sexually harassed, this article will clarify everything you need to know. If need be, you can take the next step and contact us to speak with a New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer to discuss your case.

What constitutes sexual harassment in NJ?

Sexual harassment is prohibited under The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. There are many ways that it can occur, and mild instances deserve just as much justice as severe ones. 

Sexual harassment is any type of verbal, physical, or written behavior that involves unwelcome, inappropriate gestures or advances. 

While some people who commit sexual harassment find their behavior “flattering,” anyone who has been on the receiving end knows it is anything but. 

Harassment is unlawful, unethical, and morally wrong. Sexual harassment makes your workplace feel unsafe and intimidating. You may feel trapped in your job, unable to confront your harasser without jeopardizing your career. 

We want you to know that your safety and comfort matter. That is why we offer protection and litigation services to people who are or have been subject to sexual harassment in New Jersey. 

To help you know whether you have been a victim, we will now look at examples of sexual harassment.

How do you know if someone is sexually harassing you?

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Is this person acting inappropriately toward me?
  • Do they touch me without consent?
  • Do they make comments about my physical appearance?
  • Do they make sexual advances toward me through gestures, comments, or messages?

Someone who sexually harasses another person will continually flirt with them, behave inappropriately, and make comments that make their victim uncomfortable. 

Even a single instance of sexual harassment can make you feel permanently uncomfortable and unsafe in the workplace. 

Sexist behavior also constitutes sexual harassment in NJ. If someone makes comments about your sex or remarks about you receiving certain privileges because of your gender, this can create a hostile work environment. 

Hostile work environment cases revolve around a person’s conduct occurring due to the victim’s gender or sex. When a person of the same sex considers the behavior inappropriate, offensive, or downright wrong, it can be considered harassment. 

In New Jersey, the severe-or-pervasive act can allow you to sue for sexual harassment, even if it only occurs once. If the event was severe enough to constitute a hostile work environment, it is worth taking to court. Likewise, a continuous series of harassment can fall under the pervasive claim.

What are some examples of sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment comes in many forms, and it’s often disguised as a “joke.” Below are some of the most common signs you’ve been sexually harassed and what to look out for in the workplace. 

  • Unwanted flirtatious remarks or gestures
  • Touching you without consent, especially if they pinch, grab, slap, or make any sexual gesture toward you
  • Staring at your body
  • Making unwanted and inappropriate comments about your physical appearance
  • Abusing their authority to make you spend time with them or do things you do not want to do
  • Sending you inappropriate messages or photos
  • Making “jokes” of a sexual nature or about your gender or sex

Most importantly, harassment leaves you feeling angry, uneasy, and often embarrassed, even though you have done nothing wrong. The shame and fear many victims feel can cause them to suffer in silence, which may subject them to even more harassment. 

Taking action is the best way to protect yourself. If you feel you have been sexually harassed in New Jersey, contacting an attorney can help you clarify your situation and determine whether or not you have a case.

What should I do if someone is sexually harassing me?

You should document everything that happens with the harasser, including the date and time of any inappropriate action and a complete description of what took place. Gather as much evidence as you can to support your claim. 

If you feel safe doing so, tell the harasser to stop. Let them know their behavior makes you uncomfortable and you do not want them to continue. 

Telling someone to stop harassing you can also be beneficial from a legal standpoint; you can prove that despite requests to control their behavior, a person did not listen. Ensure you also document the date you told someone to stop and what you said to them. 

If you believe others have been harassed or know that you have been a victim, talk to them. Having solidarity can build a stronger case against the harasser. 

You may move forward with filing a report with your boss or HR. If this makes you uncomfortable (because your boss is your harasser), you should contact a sexual harassment lawyer in NJ. 

The Hamilton Law Firm and Ayesha Hamilton can help you understand what qualifies as sexual harassment and advise you on next steps. Contact us to get started.