Sexual Harassment Off-Premises / Sexual Harassment Outside of the Office

Sexual harassment is a form of gender (sex) based discrimination that is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, New York State Executive Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. While sexual harassment is predominantly know to take place in the office, sexual harassment can also occur outside of the office, i.e., sexual harassment can occur off-premises. If you’re being sexually harassed in the course of your employment, regardless of where the sexual acts actually occur, you should immediately call one of the sexual harassment attorneys at the Akin Law Group. New York and New Jersey’s laws provide some of the most comprehensive protections for employees that are being sexually harassed during the course of their work, regardless of where the actual acts occur.

Can sexual harassment occur at a work related party?

Sexual harassment, whether it is sexual touching, groping, or other sexual acts like staring at a woman’s breasts, or comments of a lewd nature (talking about having sex or comments about a woman’s breast size/shape or her buttocks), or propositioning a fellow employee to engage in sexual acts (especially someone that is a subordinate) often occurs at work related parties. We have seen too many cases where a supervisor or manager has touched, rubbed or groped a female employee (although, on rare occasions, we have also seen men on men, women on woman and woman on men sexual harassment) at a Christmas or New Year’s party / dinner (which often occurs outside of the office).  Often times the sexual harasser is a person of higher seniority that has consuming one drink too many (alcohol consumption is not an excuse for sexual harassment).   There are also many cases of sexual harassment involving summer parties (one example of which is a pool party at the boss’s house where the boss and other managers tried to remove the female employees’ bikinis and groped them at the pool. The fact that a female employee has agreed to go to the party or the fact that she is wearing a bikini does not imply that she consents to being sexually harassed or touched in an offensive manner. For employees that have been sexually harassed at a party outside of the office,

Can sexual harassment occur at a business trip?

Another local where sexual harassment is predominant (off-premises) is on business trips. On these trips it is normal for employees to have dinner together or even go out for drinks after a long day on the road.  It is also true that they often stay in the same hotel, for purposes of convenience. These facts, which some men may view as an “opportunity,” do not grant any man the right to proposition a female employee that happens to be travelling with him.

During a business trips, a supervisor / manager may think that being far away from their hometown somehow gives them the right or privilege to sexually harass a co-worker. The slogan of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” might be a slick marketing tool, but it is in no way a license for a man to sexually harass his co-workers. The laws which protect employees form sexual harassment are equally applicable on business trips even when the trip is outside of the state where the office is located.

Despite these laws, there have been too many cases where a manager or supervisors has sexually harassed a female employee during a business trip by proposition her to his room, by touching her in the car or at the bar, or by demanding that they stay in the same room or extend the trip and go off on an excursions together. If you have been sexually harassed during a business trip, you may have a cause of action and should contact one of the sexual harassment lawyers at the Akin Law Group to fully understand your rights.

Can sexual harassment occur at a bar after work hours?

Often, individuals that work together will go out for a drink after work especially for “happy hours” Agreeing to have a drink with a co-worker cannot be confused with granted that co-worker a right to touch, grope or in another manner engage in sexual harassment.

There are many instances where co-workers will go out for dinner or a drink after work, which is a form of socialization and can be good in promoting employee moral or building better working relations.  However, these innocent intentions cannot and should not be confused with sexual harassment.

All employees must keep in mind that sexual harassment, by definition is any “unwelcomed” sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Consenting or agreeing to have drinks cannot be confused with consenting to engage in sexual relations. It is not uncommon for individuals to date someone that they work with or for a person to ask a co-worker on a date. However, it will become sexual harassment if the co-worker continues to insist on date or sexual relations after the employee has declined the invitation. It will also be deemed sexual harassment and a hostile work environment if the person asking for the date or the sexual relations starts to treat the co-worker negatively or adversely because she has declined his request.

If you feel that you are being sexually harassed at work even if the harassment occurs at a bar or a restaurant, you should contact one of the sexual harassment attorneys at the Akin Law Group for a free confidential consultation.

The sexual harassment lawyers and the hostile work environment attorneys at Akin Law Group will fight passionately and effectively for your rights. Don’t let your sincere and innocent gesture in agreeing to have a drink with a co-worker adversely effect your work environment. If you feel that you have been sexually harassed or have been subjected to a hostile work environment, call and speak to one of the sexual harassment attorneys at the Akin law Group at 212-825-1400; the consultation is always Free and Confidential.