Sexual Harassment from Sexual Comments and Sexual Jokes

A Hostile Work Environment created through Sexual Harassment is a very serious issue for the workplace and often has serious psychological and emotional consequences for the individuals that are being sexually harassed. Although some employees may enjoy or find jokes of a sexual nature, others may rightfully be offended. As such, comments and jokes of a sexual nature are not allowed in the workplace and are deemed to be acts in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Administrative Code of the City of New York, New York State the Human Rights Law, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

Unlike quid pro quo sexual harassment where an adverse employment action is required, a hostile work environment claim does not require any adverse employment action. Since a hostile work environment is not tied to the promise or threat of particular employment actions, this type of sexual harassment, which affects the employee’s psychological and emotional state, is found across all levels of employees.

Although Federal Courts and the State Courts in New York and New Jersey have often held that a hostile working environment is created only when the workplace is “permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment….” at times, even a single episode maybe “severe enough” to establish a hostile working environment..

In addition to the Federal and State laws in New York and New Jersey, individuals working in New York City are granted additional protection against sexual comments and jokes of a sexual nature. The New York City Human Rights Law was enacted to be liberally and independently construed with the aim of making it the most progressive in the nation. As such, for an employee working in New York City, she only needs to show that she was subjected to harassment; although under the Federal and New York State counterparts a victim of sexual harassment must also show that the harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of her employment and create an abusive working environment, no such showing is required by the City law. Under the City’s law, liability is determined by the existence of the sexual jokes and lewd comments where questions of severity and frequency are reserved for consideration of damages only.

Anyone that is forced to endure a hostile work environment created through comments of a sexual nature and through sexual jokes should contact the Akin Law Group @ 212-2-825-1400 and speak to one of our sexual harassment attorneys of New York and the sexual harassment attorneys of New Jersey.

Can sexual comments cause sexual harassment?

One type of sexual harassment is caused by a hostile work environment which can result from lewd comments or comments of a sexual nature. For example, for a male employee to tell a female co-worker “you have a nice —-” when commenting about her anatomy in a sexual manner, or rant about his sexual performance, or for that matter, for a female employee to tell others about what she prefers in bed, are all comments that are lewd, of a sexual nature and highly inappropriate for the workplace.

Although comments of a sexual nature are usually directed towards an individual, where the individual is targeted, the hostile environment created may give rise to other employees also suffering repercussions. The hostile work environment created through sexual comments, even when targeting an individual may result in the creating of a hostile work environment for the entire office; for example, referring to a woman as a “bitch” will necessarily result in other woman being offended just like calling a homosexual man a “ferry” would offend others.   As such, unlike a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim, which only targets an individual, a hostile work environment can have as its victims individuals that are not the target.

Can sexual jokes cause sexual harassment?

Jokes of a sexual nature are really no different than comments of a sexual nature.  Jokes of a sexual nature are usually demeaning or offending a certain gender (usually woman).  Although some may find the jokes funny and even laugh, others can still feel sexual harassment from the hostile work environment that is created by the overtone.

With the creating of a hostile work environment through two employees making sexual jokes with other laughing and encouraging such behavior, the inappropriate behavior between these participating employees may also create a hostile work environment for other employees who were not actually the target of the jokes. Again, by way of an example, one employee telling another employee a joke about lesbians in the cafeteria can clearly be offensive to other woman present that are overhearing the jokes.

When the jokes are funny to some and make many people in a room laugh, they actually become more toxic for others. In an atmosphere filled with many people laughing, partaking in and encouraging such jokes, the victim of such sexual harassment will necessarily feel embarrassed and humiliated to such an extent that she would be fearful of speaking out or asking them to stop.

The New York Sexual Harassment attorneys at the Akin Law Group and the New Jersey Sexual Harassment attorneys at the Akin Law Group are here to help. We will treat you with the care, compassion and consideration that you deserve and answer all of your questions.

The consultation is always Free and always Confidential.

Call us at 212-825-1400 and speak privately with one of our employment discrimination attorneys / sexual harassment attorneys (not an answering service).