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Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment at work is improper or unwanted behavior of a sexual nature, directed at one person, and found to be offensive by that person.

Matthew Allen Luber | Oct 25, 2019

What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?

What is Sexual Harassment? Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct in the workplace. This can include conduct of a sexual nature or conduct based on someone’s sex or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment can be so severe that it creates a hostile work environment for the employee. Unwelcome Conduct Sexual harassment includes unwelcome and unwanted behavior. It is helpful if the victim informs the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome. The victim of sexual harassment should also inform the harasser that the conduct needs to stop. Sexual Conduct Sexual harassment includes conduct of a sexual nature. However, sexual harassment is not limited to sexual behaviors. Sexual harassment can also include inappropriate conduct based on an individual’s sexual identification or sexual orientation. For example, this can include discrimination against an employee because of the employee’s sex. Many different types of actions of a sexual nature may be sexual harassment. This may include verbal, physical, nonverbal, or visual conduct. For instance, inappropriate touching and sexual jokes may both constitute sexual harassment, although they take different forms. Severe or Pervasive Conduct The unwelcome conduct must either be severe or pervasive. Conduct is severe if it includes a very serious incident. For example, severe conduct may refer to rape or attempted rape. However, the conduct may also be pervasive. Pervasive conduct occurs when the harassment is less severe, but happens frequently or continues over time. Multiple minor incidents can accumulate to a sexual harassment claim if the incidents affect the victim’s work environment. For instance, this may include frequent and persistent sexual comments to an employee over time. Conduct that Affects Work Environment Sexual harassment can create a hostile work environment for the victim. Inappropriate and unwanted conduct at the workplace can make the victim feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Every person should feel comfortable where they work. But, this type of harassment can create a hostile work environment for the victim, affecting the victim’s work performance. Sexual harassment can also affect the victim’s working conditions. For example, the victim rejecting sexual advances may be fired, demoted, or refused a promotion. The sexual advances can not only leave the employee feeling victimized and unsafe, but can also lead to the victim losing money or job opportunities. Contact Us You should always feel comfortable and safe where you work. If you have experienced sexual harassment, the Middletown sexual harassment lawyers at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. can help you. Please call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, OR contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We represent all clients in Middletown, Cherry Hill, and throughout New Jersey.

Lauren Ashley Macdonald | Sep 25, 2019

Sex Discrimination: Rumors in the Workplace

Parker v. Reema Consulting Services: Facts of the Case A male colleague employed at Reema Consulting Services Inc. started a rumor that the plaintiff, Evangeline Parker, received six promotions in a little over a year due to sleeping with her boss. The male colleague did not receive comparable promotions at Reema Consulting Services, Inc. The rumor was well-known throughout the Company and was even spread further by the highest-ranking manager at the warehouse who asked the man accused of sleeping with the plaintiff “hey, you sure your wife ain’t divorcing you because you are f--ing [Parker]?” Id. at 300. As the rumor spread, the plaintiff "was treated with open resentment and disrespect" from many coworkers, and her "work environment became increasingly hostile." Id. The plaintiff complained to the manager of the warehouse about his comments and the manager informed her that “he could no longer recommend her for promotions or higher-level tasks because of the rumor.” Id. When the plaintiff filed a sexual harassment complaint with human resources at Reema Consulting Services, Inc., she was told to stay away from the employee who started the rumor against her. Eventually, the plaintiff was given two written warnings and was terminated from the Company. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a claim for sex discrimination. Court Holding While the District Court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim because it found that the allegation was based on alleged conduct, not the plaintiff’s sex, the Fourth Circuit of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision. The court stated that “the rumor was that Parker, a female subordinate, had sex with her male superior to obtain promotion, implying that Parker used her womanhood, rather than her merit, to obtain from a man, so seduced, a promotion. She plausibly invokes a deeply rooted perception — one that unfortunately still persists — that generally woman, not men, use sex to achieve success.” Id. at 303. Altogether, the court found that the plaintiff plausibly alleged that she suffered harassment because she was a woman. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals includes the federal courts in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Based on this case, employers may be held liable for sex discrimination when management encourages the spread of rumors in the workplace and the rumors cause an adverse employment action to the employee. Employers should be vigilant in quashing rumors when they begin and appropriately responding to complaints of rumors and sex harassment. This case shows how Courts have increasingly been taking a broad view of sex discrimination and harassment in this #MeToo era.

Helena Kempner Kobrin | Aug 16, 2019

CALIFORNIA SEXUAL HARASSMENT PREVENTION

California Government Code section 12950.1 requires all employers with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training no later than December 31, 2019. Managers are to receive a minimum of two hours of training. All non-supervisory employees must complete a one hour minimum. All managers and other employees must retrain every two years thereafter. There are special rules for new hires, seasonal workers, and temporary employees. New hires must be trained within six months of their start date. Seasonal and temporary employee training is within 30 calendar days of hiring, or before the employee works 100 hours, whichever occurs sooner. We offer half-day on-site group seminars as a superior alternative to online training. Our materials derive from over 10 years of delivery, with real-life, experienced instruction on identification, prevention and internal resolution of workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. The compelling reasons to offer a live session to your workforce include: • Interaction with trainer and participants, with ability to apply principles to specific work conditions; • Immediate answers to questions, benefitting all attendees; • Employees typically pay closer attention; • Proper emphasis on relative importance; • Preventative measures emphasized; • Live training confirms company commitment to effectively addressing and preventing unlawful or inappropriate workplace conduct; and • By the bulk of feedback we’ve received, our live sessions are engaging, even fun! See also: • This Time It’s Personal (June 2019) • Required Training on Sexual Harassment Prevention (May 2019) • The #metoo Movement’s Impact (April 2019) • Stopping the Jerks and Lurks (April 2019) Contact us TODAY for more information, costs or to schedule your seminar at (626) 583-6600 or [email protected]

Matthew T Famiglietti | Jul 9, 2019

D.C Office of Human Rights Employment Discrimination Jurisdiction

Filing Discrimination Complaints with the D.C. Office of Human Rights An employee that works within the District of Columbia may file an employment discrimination complaint through the D.C. Office of Human Rights. The D.C. Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, genetic information, disability, matriculation, or political affiliation. The first step in filing an employment discrimination complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights is filing what is referred to as an "Employment Intake Questionnaire Form." This may be done online through the D.C. Office of Human Rights. To meet the criteria, the last act of discrimination or retaliation must have occurred within one year of the filing of the Intake Questionnaire. Once the Intake Questionnaire has been filed, the D.C. Office of Human Rights will review the Intake form to ensure that the Office has jurisdiction over the matter. The D.C. Office of Human Rights has jurisdiction over all employers conducting business in the District of Columbia. Note this jurisdiction does not apply to Federal Government agencies. That would be covered under Federal Sector Discrimination (see my guide on Federal Sector Discrimination). If you are an employee of the D.C. Government and you experience discrimination in the work place, you must file an Internal Discrimination Complaint with the particular agency that you work for within D.C. Government before you can file a Complaint of discrimination with the D.C. Office of Human Rights. An exit interview letter must be provided to the D.C. Government employee, stating that he or she has been given an exit interview by the local EEOC Agency Office within the D.C. Government. D.C. Office of Human Rights Process Once the D.C. Office of Human Rights has ensured that it has jurisdiction over an employment discrimination matter, an Intake person from the Office will contact the Complainant and their representative if they have one, to come into the D.C. Office of Human Rights and to actually draw up a charge of discrimination. Once that charge has been drawn up, it will be sent to the respondent employer. The employer charged with discrimination will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations and to rebut any of those allegations of discrimination. The employer, through their attorney, may at that time offer a motion to dismiss probably on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction. These motions are usually defeated because the D.C. Office of Human Rights has jurisdiction over the great majority of cases that are filed in their office. Once the charge has been drawn up and provided to the respondent employer, a mandatory mediation session is arranged. One of the great benefits of going through the D.C. Office of Human Rights is, unlike a complaint of discrimination filed with the EEOC or through the Federal Sector, that the mediation is mandatory and requires both sides to show up for the mandatory mediation session. If mediation fails, then the D.C. Office of Human Rights will conduct a full-blown investigation which can take up to a year or more. Once the investigation is completed, the D.C. Office of Human Rights will issue a finding of no discrimination or a finding of discrimination. If either party disagrees with the determination, they can ask for reconsideration of the matter, although realistically the majority of requests for reconsideration are denied. You may also submit new additional legal arguments and facts with your reconsideration request. If the D.C. Office of Human Rights finds there is discrimination, it will mandate a conciliatory meeting to try to settle the matter once again.

Christian V. McOmber | Jun 12, 2019

What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?

What is Sexual Harassment? Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct in the workplace. This can include conduct of a sexual nature or conduct based on someone’s sex or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment can be so severe that it creates a hostile work environment for the employee. Unwelcome Conduct Sexual harassment includes unwelcome and unwanted behavior. It is helpful if the victim informs the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome. The victim of sexual harassment should also inform the harasser that the conduct needs to stop. Sexual Conduct Sexual harassment includes conduct of a sexual nature. However, sexual harassment is not limited to sexual behaviors. Sexual harassment can also include inappropriate conduct based on an individual’s sexual identification or sexual orientation. For example, this can include discrimination against an employee because of the employee’s sex. Many different types of actions of a sexual nature may be sexual harassment. This may include verbal, physical, nonverbal, or visual conduct. For instance, inappropriate touching and sexual jokes may both constitute sexual harassment, although they take different forms. Severe or Pervasive Conduct The unwelcome conduct must either be severe or pervasive. Conduct is severe if it includes a very serious incident. For example, severe conduct may refer to rape or attempted rape. However, the conduct may also be pervasive. Pervasive conduct occurs when the harassment is less severe, but happens frequently or continues over time. Multiple minor incidents can accumulate to a sexual harassment claim if the incidents affect the victim’s work environment. For instance, this may include frequent and persistent sexual comments to an employee over time. Conduct that Affects Work Environment Sexual harassment can create a hostile work environment for the victim. Inappropriate and unwanted conduct at the workplace can make the victim feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Every person should feel comfortable where they work. But, this type of harassment can create a hostile work environment for the victim, affecting the victim’s work performance. Sexual harassment can also affect the victim’s working conditions. For example, the victim rejecting sexual advances may be fired, demoted, or refused a promotion. The sexual advances can not only leave the employee feeling victimized and unsafe, but can also lead to the victim losing money or job opportunities. Sexual Harassment is Against the Law Sexual harassment is illegal. The laws against sexual harassment are intended to protect employees from harassment in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against another on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), your employer has the responsibility to prevent and properly address sexual harassment complaints. Every person should feel safe and comfortable in the workplace. As mentioned, sexual harassment can take many forms. You should never have to put up with inappropriate behaviors where you work. Please remember that you are not alone.