In any employment situation, all workers and employers have the right to be treated with professional courtesy. If you work in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York, and the workplace environment makes you feel uncomfortable because of offensive sexual comments or sexual innuendo, we at Jacobson & Rooks understand that this type of behavior can turn a career into a miserable experience.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment is not necessarily limited to actions or remarks that are explicitly sexual in nature. It can also involve comments or behaviors that are offensive toward a gender, including those of the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community. If someone at your work is consistently disparaging toward those of your sex or orientation, the negative attitude may be considered harassment.
Although most sexual harassment is assumed to be directed from a man to a woman, you may have trouble that is perpetrated by a person of the same sex or sexual orientation, such as a female toward another female, or a female toward a male. Another common assumption is that most sexual harassment is directed toward a worker by the supervisor who threatens to withhold a raise or promotion unless favors are granted. However, you may also discover that the offensive behavior comes from a person who is in a different department, a vendor or a client, among others.
Not every offensive comment is illegal, according to the EEOC. A one-time incident or flippant remark may not constitute the creation of a hostile environment and may be addressed by a supervisor without requiring more serious action. Our page on inappropriate workplace behaviors offers more information on this topic.