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Ways to Protect Yourself if You Believe You’re Being Sexually Harassed

Ways to Protect Yourself if You Believe You’re Being Sexually Harassed

New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. You are protected whether you are a full- or part-time employee, an intern or a volunteer. Yet, workers across the state are still subjected to harassment, whether through direct action or through tolerance of a hostile workplace. If you believe you are a victim of harassment, there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself and to help build a case for legal relief.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome, offensive, non-consensual conduct that can alter the terms and conditions of employment. There are two types of sexual harassment:

  1. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a supervisor threatens firing or demotion or offers extra benefits to an employee in exchange for sexual acts. The harasser can be male or female and so can the victim.
  2. Hostile workplace harassment occurs when management tolerates severe and pervasive sexually related conduct that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive.

Examples of sexual harassment at work include the following:

  • Sexually suggestive language, jokes or comments
  • Sexual gestures
  • Questions about your sexual activity
  • Sending or displaying explicit material
  • Unwanted physical contact
  • A wide variety of other unwanted actions and behaviors

If you feel you are being harassed at work and are ready to do something about it, start by telling the harasser that you find their behavior offensive and tell them to stop. You can do this face to face, but sending a letter or email is preferable because it establishes a record of the communication.

If the unwanted conduct doesn’t stop, you should follow your company’s sexual harassment policy and procedure for reporting the problem. If you are being harassed by the person you would ordinarily complain to (like your immediate manager), you can file a complaint with that person’s supervisor or with HR. Keep documentation of the responses you receive.

Following your company’s policy is critical. Courts have ruled repeatedly that employees need to make their employers aware of sexual harassment through a formal complaint and to give them time to take corrective action. Failing to follow the policy can undermine other legal actions you may eventually want to take. If you decide to sue for sexual harassment, you’ll need to prove that you followed procedures.

You can also help yourself by gathering evidence. Save offensive emails and text messages. Make a diary to document instances of harassment. New Jersey law also allows you to record audio or video of conversation or conduct even if the person being recorded is unaware.

You do not have to navigate the laws of workplace sexual harassment on your own. The attorneys of Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. help employees take the right steps to protect themselves. We represent employees in New Jersey and New York. Schedule a confidential consultation with one of our sexual harassment lawyers by calling 551-245-8894 or contact us online.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch
Retired

About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

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Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey’s premier practitioners of employment and civil litigation. He has been selected to the New Jersey Super Lawyers prestigious list every year since 2005.  This honor, bestowed upon a recipient by the votes of his peers, is a powerful nod to the skill Mr. Atkins…

Adam  J.  Kleinfeldt Attorney Photo
Adam J. Kleinfeldt
Partner

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict…

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Diane Englander Peyser
Attorney

About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination,…

Debra M. McGarvey Attorney Photo
Debra M. McGarvey
Attorney

About Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA),…

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