When you normally think of sexual harassment, you usually don’t think of the bystanders. While most of the New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania cases our sexual harassment attorneys handle involves the direct targets of employment sexual harassment, assault, or discrimination, we want you to know that there are in many cases other victims who are indirectly affected. An example of “Indirect Sexual Harassment” is someone who is a witness to the harassment of another individual. You may be entitled to compensation even if you were indirectly affected by someone else’s unethical behavior in the workplace. No worker should ever have to tolerate an abusive job position whether directly or indirectly.
What you need to know about a hostile work environment
In short, a hostile work environment is one that makes doing your job impossible. Being teased, overhearing an offensive conversation, or listening to an inappropriate, offhand comment is typically not enough to constitute a hostile work environment under the law. Nor is having an unpleasant or uncomfortable working environment enough to be considered illegal. Simply because you have tension with a co-worker or your boss is demanding does not mean your employer is doing anything wrong under the law.
To qualify as a hostile work environment, the conduct must be so bad that it creates an offensive, abusive, and intolerable atmosphere that negatively impacts your job performance. The acts also must be discriminatory in nature – sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination.
A hostile work environment and indirect sexual harassment
Here is an example: Steve and Jerry are harassing Monica. Cynthia sits right next to Steve, Jerry, and Monica at work. Steve and Jerry post pornographic pictures on Monica’s cubicle wall, ask her inappropriate questions about her sexual history, and tell off-color jokes in her presence. Steve has asked Monica out on several dates but Monica has repeatedly said no. She has also told both men to cease harassing her, but they do not stop.
Cynthia has overheard all of the harassment towards Monica. She is in plain slight of the graphic images Steve and Jerry have plastered on Monica’s cubicle. She now has trouble concentrating at work. She started having difficulty sleeping at night. Cynthia has also asked Steve and Jerry to stop sexually harassing Monica, but they refuse. Her work performance suffers, her bosses are unhappy about her work product, and she faces anxiety due to her mounting professional problems.
In a situation like this, Cynthia should report the situation to Human Resources
If HR does not act sufficiently to end the harassment, she should speak with a sexual harassment lawyer in NYC. Cynthia may have a claim against her company – even though she was not the direct target of the harassment. Steve and Jerry’s conduct was so severe, it created a hostile work environment for her and her employer did nothing to stop it.
Have you experienced something similar to Cynthia’s situation?
Do not hesitate to speak with a New York City sexual harassment lawyer right away if you have endured injustice at work. If you feel you have been the victim of workplace discrimination or sexual harassment in New York City, Miami, New Jersey or Philadelphia or if your employment rights have been violated, call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation to discuss your possible claim. Our attorneys are available to review your claims and prepare a solid case to recover the damages and justice you deserved.
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