Harassment in the Workplace

There are two kinds of harassment:

  1. quid-pro-quo and
  2. hostile environment

In order to be actionable, the harassment must be based on one of certain "protected" categories. If an employer harasses a person because of his or her sex or race, that is unlawful. However, if an employer harasses a person, because he or she simply does not like the person, there is no basis for a claim.

Quid-pro-quo, which is Latin for "this for that," generally arises when an employer makes sex a prerequisite for getting something in the workplace. For example, if a manager conditions a job offer or a promotion on sleeping with him or her, that is quid-pro-quo harassment. Sexual advances, solicitations, requests, and demands for sexual compliance are all forms of quid-pro-quo harassment. However, if the person is having a consensual affair with the manager, there is no basis for a claim.

A hostile environment is a situation in which an employer, supervisor, or co-worker does or says things that makes the victim feel uncomfortable because of his or her sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. Discrimination and harassment go hand-in-hand. Where there is discrimination in the workplace, harassment usually follows.

When it comes to sexual harassment, women still file the overwhelming majority of claims. However, there have been an increasing amount of claims issued by men. Some cases allege harassment by female supervisors or co-workers. Most cases involve men harassing men. Sometimes, it is unwelcome sexual advances. Other times, men are picked on because they are gay, perceived as being gay, or not considered masculine enough for the work setting.

In order to file a claim for hostile environment, the harassment must be "severe and pervasive." An isolated comment, even if it is offensive, is not a basis for a lawsuit. On the other hand, ongoing use of racial or ethnic slurs could be found to be "severe and pervasive." Jokes, pictures, touching, leering, unwanted requests for a date have all been found by courts to be sexual harassment. Each set of facts must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Further, the conduct must be carried on by management or under management's knowledge. Management must have had an opportunity to stop it and, in fact, have failed to do so.

If you believe you have been the victim of harassment, please complete the online questionnaire here. If you have suffered retaliation or lost your job because you sought to protect your rights, SOHN LEGAL GROUP is prepared to file a lawsuit, if necessary, to get you the justice you deserve.

Harassment Outside the Workplace

You may also sue for harassment occurring outside the workplace. The following individuals may be sued for harassment, when they have a business, service, or professional relationship with the person they harassed: physicians, psychotherapists, dentists, attorneys, marriage/family/child counselors, social workers, real estate agents/appraisers, accountants, bankers, financial planners, collection services, building contractors, escrow loan officers, trust officers, loan officers, trustees, executors, administrators, landlords, property managers, teachers, and others who are in relationships similar to any of the above.

If you believe you have been the victim of such harassment, please complete the online questionnaire here. We are prepared to file a lawsuit, if necessary, to get you the justice you deserve.