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Can a Same-Sex Harassment Case Be Pursued Under Sexual Harassment Laws?

November 28th, 2023
A Bucks County Sexual Harassment Lawyer at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Can Help if You Are Experiencing Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a pervasive issue in workplaces around the globe. However, there is often an assumption that it involves members of the opposite sex. What about same-sex harassment?

In many jurisdictions, sexual harassment laws are designed to protect workers from unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that affects an individual’s employment, interferes with work performance or creates a hostile work environment.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. This has been interpreted by courts to include protection against sexual harassment.

The question here is whether these laws apply to same-sex harassment. The answer is yes. In the 1998 landmark case of Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services Inc., the Supreme Court held that Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination applies to harassment by individuals of the same sex. This ruling effectively extended the scope of sexual harassment laws to include same-sex harassment.

Examples of Same-Sex Sexual Harassment at Work

  • Unwanted advances: If a male employee constantly makes unwelcome sexual comments or advances towards another male coworker, this can be classified as same-sex sexual harassment, regardless of the harasser’s sexual orientation.
  • Hostile work environment: A female manager who continuously makes derogatory remarks about a female employee’s appearance or sexuality can be guilty of creating a hostile work environment.
  • Retaliation: If a worker faces negative consequences, like being passed over for promotions after rejecting the sexual advances of a same-sex coworker or supervisor, this can be considered same-sex sexual harassment.

Two Types of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment generally falls under two categories:

  • Quid pro quo: This occurs when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances—for example, a supervisor promising a promotion in exchange for sexual favors.
  • Hostile work environment: This type of harassment occurs when an employee is subjected to offensive, intimidating, or oppressive behavior that’s so severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of their employment and creates an abusive working environment. For instance, a coworker continuously sharing explicit content can create a hostile work environment.

Recourse for Victims of Sexual Harassment

Victims of sexual harassment, including same-sex harassment, have various options for recourse. They can file a complaint with their employer, seek mediation, or file a lawsuit. Workers can also file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will then investigate the claim and seek recourse on behalf of the employee.

A Bucks County Sexual Harassment Lawyer at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Can Help if You Are Experiencing Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment at work happens all too frequently. If you have faced same-sex sexual harassment at work, speak with a Bucks County sexual harassment lawyer at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, and Cherry Hill.

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