Workplace Sexual Coercion
All forms of sexual harassment are illegal and can cause significant liability problems for a company that promotes a hostile work environment or fails to address a person who is sexually harassing a fellow employee. However, workplace sexual coercion potentially crosses the line into criminal activity.
Sexual coercion can lead a victim to feel vulnerable, exposed, and even violated. Victims of this can feel trapped in a situation they cannot escape. It might be a feeling that remains with them even when they are no longer at work.
Employees should not have to endure such behavior from coworkers or managers. They should report any incidents and rest assured that they will be safe for reporting it. Those looking for a reliable source for advice should reach out to an experienced sexual harassment lawyer who can inform them of their options and help them get relief for their situation.
What is Sexual Coercion?
Sexual coercion is a complex version of sexual harassment in which the perpetrator will use a variety of methods to pressure a coworker into performing sexual favors. The harasser will use guilt, emotion, or any other weakness they can detect in their victim to take advantage of the situation.
Sexual behavior can include any form of sexual contact, including intercourse, oral sex, kissing, petting, and other sexual activity. There are multiple ways that a harasser may attempt to force someone to performing a sexual act. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Guilt: A harasser might try to convince the victim that they should feel some type of obligation to engage in a sexual activity with them. They could buy a gift for them and think that should warrant it, or they could claim that the person was about to lose their job and the harasser saved them and therefore owes them.
- Constant consent: Consent is not a blanket decision that covers all sexual activity over the course of a relationship with a person. It must be given by both parties every time. If a person consents to a kiss, it does not mean they are consenting to anything beyond that. A harasser may attempt to claim otherwise, saying that they already offered one thing and that means they agreed to everything else.
- Impairing judgment: At office parties, there could be a significant amount of alcohol consumed, and everyone should hold themselves responsible for the amount they drink. However, if someone is deliberately manipulating a person to drink more to allow them to drop their inhibitions so that they perform a sexual act with them, that can also be considered a form of sexual coercion.
- Physical: A person may not wish to take no for an answer and physically hold someone in place or trap them in a corner to kiss them, grope them, or touch them in an inappropriate manner.
There are other more diabolical methods a harasser may enlist to get their way, including using blackmail and threatening to have the person fired or spread false rumors about them throughout the office. The harasser could also threaten to expose sensitive information to the employee’s supervisors.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Victimized by Sexual Coercion?
Sexual coercion can happen anywhere and does not have to happen during working hours. It can occur on a business trip, at night, or during an office party. Even though the employees may no longer be in the office, their workplace dynamic does not change.
An employee facing sexual coercion should report the incident immediately to their supervisors or their human resources department. In addition, depending on the tactics used, they may also wish to report the incident to the police, as it could be considered a felony in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
If the company fails to address the situation or attempts to dissuade the victim from lodging a formal complaint, the employee should contact a sexual harassment lawyer who will help them file a lawsuit against the perpetrator and the company for their role in the incident.
Philadelphia Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Protect Victims Coerced into Sexual Activity at Work
If you have been coerced into a sexual relationship with a coworker or someone is trying to manipulate you into having sex with them, it is behavior that you do not have to tolerate. The Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. will stand with you and provide you with legal options that you can take to protect yourself at work. We can help you obtain a compensation package and force change at your company so that no one will endure what you did. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients in Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Cherry Hill, South Jersey, as well as in New York.