Sexual harassment is a grave manifestation of sex-based discrimination, affecting individuals from all walks of life and professional backgrounds. It is essential to recognize that both federal and Pennsylvania state laws safeguard employees against sexual harassment within their workplaces. Regardless of your place of employment, you are entitled to a work environment that is devoid of sexual harassment.
Should you have experienced unwelcome behavior from a colleague, supervisor, or any other individual at your workplace, our team of sexual harassment attorneys in Philadelphia is ready to assess your case and take appropriate legal measures on your behalf.
Schedule a consultation today with The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. by calling (856) 746-6332.
What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment in the workplace includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This behavior constitutes sexual harassment when it unreasonably interferes with an employee's work performance, or when it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment may come from the employee’s supervisors, managers, or even the business owners. Sexual harassment may also come from a co-worker or even a customer.
Is Sexual Harassment Illegal?
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is a Federal law which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin and religion. Sexual harassment also violates the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), the state law equivalent of Title VII.
Types of Sexual Harassment
Under Title VII and the PHRA, there are two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
What is quid pro quo sexual harassment? This specific form of workplace sexual harassment happens when a person in authority, often a manager or supervisor, exploits their position to manipulate an employee into tolerating or participating in unwelcome sexual advances. These advances may be framed as a condition for the employee to retain their job, receive employment benefits such as a promotion or a raise, or even secure their initial employment.
The Key Elements of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
This type of harassment is characterized by the following key elements:
- Abuse of Authority: Quid pro quo harassment hinges on the abuse of power and authority by the harasser. The person in a superior position exploits their influence to pressure the victim into compliance.
- Employment-Related Consequences: The harasser ties employment matters, such as job retention, promotions, or salary increases, to the victim's willingness to engage in sexual activities or tolerate inappropriate sexual behavior.
- Unwanted Sexual Conduct: The demands in quid pro quo harassment can include unwanted sexual contact, sending explicit images, or enduring sexual advances that the victim does not welcome.
The Illegality of Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
It's crucial to emphasize that quid pro quo sexual harassment is not only unethical but also illegal. Federal and state laws prohibit such behaviors in the workplace, making it clear that employment decisions or benefits should never be contingent on submitting to or enduring sexual harassment.
Understanding the concept of "quid pro quo" is vital in recognizing and combatting sexual harassment in the workplace. By identifying and addressing these actions, employers and employees can create a safer and more respectful work environment, free from the damaging effects of harassment. If you or someone you know is facing quid pro quo sexual harassment, seeking legal guidance is often the first step towards resolution and justice.
Hostile Work Environment
Whenever there is a pattern of frequent sexual harassment incidents that is considered to be a hostile work environment. This can consist of both physical and verbal unwanted sexual conduct directed toward one or more people. Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Graphic sexual comments about an employee’s body or specific body parts;
- Leering looks of a sexual nature
- Sexual propositions or repeated requests for dates
- Obscene jokes, sexual innuendos, or offensive pictures
- Unsolicited “sexting” or sending text messages with sexual content or sexual images;
- Inappropriate or offensive touching, such as patting, squeezing, grabbing, pinching, or fondling;
- Looking up a female employee’s skirt or looking down a female employee’s blouse;
- “Implied threats about maintaining your employment unless sexual demands are complied with
- Conversations about sexual exploits or conquests
What to Do If You’ve Experienced Sexual Harassment
The law generally requires you to report the harassment in accordance with company policies. In the event that you have experienced sexual harassment or what you believe is sexual harassment, you should take the following steps:
- Follow your employer’s procedure for filing a complaint.
- Document everything – make sure that your complaints are made in writing.
- Maintain detailed notes about the unwanted sexual behavior that you have experienced.
- Save all tangible evidence which demonstrates sexual harassment, such as text messages, emails, gifts, or notes.
- Make a copy of your employer’s sexual harassment policy and familiarize yourself with it.
- Inform the harasser that the conduct offends you.
- Inform your supervisor and the human resources department in writing about what you are experiencing.
After reporting the sexual harassment to your employer, if the unwelcomed behavior continues, or if you are retaliated against and are terminated for reporting the sexual harassment, contact the Law Firm of Morgan Rooks. We understand what it takes to hold employers accountable for their violations of Title VII and the PHRA, the laws which prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace.
Fight Back Against Workplace Sexual Harassment in Philadelphia
Get in touch with a Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyer from The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks today. We serve Pennsylvania and the greater Philadelphia region.
We have experience as business owners ourselves, and know their thought process.
We tackle cases of every size and complexity with a tailored approach.
Communication is key! We keep you updated throughout your case.
We focus on protecting your rights, when employers fail to do so.