Sexual Harassment

Matthew Fogelman has experience representing victims of sexual harassment, which is considered unwelcome behavior directed at an employee because of her or his sex, including:

  • Unwanted and unrequested advances or unwelcome touching, or any inappropriate comments,
  • Requests for sexual favors, or
  • Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature

There are two primary forms of sexual harassment: (1) quid pro quo, and (2) hostile work environment. Sexual harassment does not have to involve actual physical contact. Words alone are typically sufficient to constitute either quid pro quo or hostile work environment sexual harassment. 

Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs where submission to or rejection of sexually harassing conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions (such as promotion or termination) or is made a requirement of getting the job in the first place. A classic example is the employee who is fired for refusing to give in to a supervisor's advances.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome and unwanted sexual conduct unreasonably interferes with an employee's job performance or creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment, such that the employee effectively cannot carry on with her or his work. With hostile work environment harassment, the harassment does not have to lead to an actual adverse employment action, such as termination. Hostile work environment sexual harassment may include:

  • Numerous requests for sexual favors
  • Demeaning and degrading sexual inquiries and vulgarities
  • Offensive language
  • Sexually explicit signs, cartoons, drawings, pictures, or photographs displayed in open and plain view

In "hostile work environment" claims, companies are generally held strictly liable for the conduct of their supervisory employees; and managers can be found individually liable for creating or contributing to a sexually harassing environment. Matthew Fogelman is well-equipped to handle and to be sensitive to the often emotionally charged nature of this type of suit.