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Hostile work environments and sexual harassment

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According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, while sexual harassment rates are declining, the issue continues to affect thousands of workers in the nation each year. Increased education on what constitutes sexual harassment may be the key to preventing these occurrences in the future. Our team at The Law Firm of Jacobson & Rooks, LLC often explains to clients that harassment comes in two forms, each of which can be equally damaging to victims.

The EEOC states that sexual harassment occurs when a person is subjected to unwanted sexual attention, including requests for favors of a sexual nature and sexual advances. This is known as quid pro quo sexual harassment. It is often blatant in nature, and difficult to ignore. For example, if an employer requests a sexual favor in exchange for a promotion, quid pro quo sexual harassment has occurred. These actions are inexcusable and illegal in any setting.

Conversely, a hostile work environment generated by sexual harassment may be considered more subtle in nature. This type of damaging workplace situation may be created when fellow employees, clients or managers use sexually explicit jokes and language or disparaging comments directed at a particular sex while at work. Although the harassment may be more obvious if these comments are directed toward one individual, they do not need to have an intended victim in order to be identified as harassment. When workers are continually exposed to these remarks, they may become anxious or uncomfortable with the idea of returning to work.

Employers are charged with ensuring that their workers and clients refrain from engaging in sexually harassing behaviors, even if they may not be directed at any one person. To learn more about the subject, please visit our web page.