Category: Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Legal Obligations and Employee Rights

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Our Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Can Help if You Have Been Sexually Harassed in the Workplace

Ideally, every workplace would be a safe and respectful environment for all employees. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. One of the most pervasive issues plaguing the workforce today is sexual harassment. It can cause severe emotional distress, inhibit professional growth, and even lead to significant legal consequences.

What Is Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It involves any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Here are common examples of sexual harassment:

  • Unwanted physical contact: An employee might be subjected to unwanted touching, hugging, or patting by a colleague or supervisor. This behavior, when unwelcome, can constitute sexual harassment.
  • Sexual comments or jokes: Persistent comments about an individual’s physical appearance, lewd jokes, or suggestive remarks can also fall under sexual harassment.
  • Sexual propositions: A superior offering job benefits in return for sexual favors or threatening negative employment consequences if such favors are not provided is a clear example of quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Who Can Be Liable for Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Both employers and employees can be held liable for sexual harassment. An employer can be held responsible if they knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take appropriate corrective action. Similarly, an individual who engages in harassment can be held personally liable for their actions.

Sexual Harassment Laws in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, sexual harassment laws mirror those at the federal level. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibits sexual harassment and makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who report such behavior. Employers must ensure a safe, respectful, and non-hostile working environment. Failure to do so can result in severe legal consequences, including fines and penalties.

What Can You Do if You Have Been Sexually Harassed at Work?

Here are some steps you can take if you have been sexually harassed in the workplace:

  • Report the incident: The first step is to report the incident to your supervisor or HR department. Make sure to document all incidents and interactions related to the harassment.
  • File a complaint: If your employer does not take appropriate action, you can file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Consult with a lawyer: It is advisable to consult with an attorney. They can guide you through the process and protect your rights.

No one should tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace. Knowing your rights and legal options can empower you to act against such behavior. If you are experiencing sexual harassment, you are not alone, and legal resources are available to help you navigate this difficult time.

Our Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Can Help if You Have Been Sexually Harassed in the Workplace

You have rights in the workplace, and if you have faced sexual harassment, you may have legal options. Speak with our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We are a premier firm that has been protecting workers’ rights for decades. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Can I Be Fired for Reporting Sexual Harassment?

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The Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Protect Your Rights as an Employee.

Experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace can be a frightening and overwhelming ordeal. It is important to know that reporting this behavior is not only necessary, but it is also protected by law. An employee cannot be fired simply for reporting sexual harassment, and employers are not allowed to take adverse employment actions against an employee who has reported such behavior.

What is Adverse Action?

The law protects those who have experienced or reported sexual harassment in the workplace. It applies to employees who report harassing behavior as well as victims of the harassment. The law prohibits employers from retaliating against either party by taking any adverse actions.

“Adverse action” is defined as any action taken by an employer that negatively impacts an employee’s job status. This can include demoting them, decreasing their pay, creating a hostile work environment, reducing their hours, or retaliating against them. An employee who reports sexual harassment should not have to worry about facing any kind of adverse action from their employer. If they do face any form of retaliation from their employer for reporting sexual harassment, then they may be able to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC is a federal agency that enforces civil rights laws and investigates allegations of discrimination in the workplace. If you have reported sexual harassment at work, your employer must investigate your claim. The EEOC will check up on them to ensure a full investigation occurred, and they will ensure you do not receive any adverse action. If you do, your employer could be subject to sanctions, including reinstating you in your job if you have been terminated.

What If I Was Fired?

If you have been fired for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself. Besides reporting the issue to the EEOC and speaking with an experienced employment lawyer, document everything. It is important that you document every instance of what has happened since you reported the workplace sexual harassment incident. This includes any emails or conversations between you and your employer regarding the matter, as well as any other evidence that may help support your case. Having documentation of all events is crucial when making a legal claim against an employer for wrongful termination due to reporting sexual harassment.

It is also worth noting that you do not have to be the recipient of workplace sexual harassment to report it to your employer or the EEOC. If you witness sexual harassment in the workplace, you should speak out. Filing a sexual harassment claim with your company’s HR department will help make your workplace safer for everyone.

The Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Protect Your Rights as an Employee

It is against the law for your employer to terminate you for reporting sexual harassment. If you have lost your job after reporting sexual harassment in your workplace, discuss your legal options with the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Contact us at 215-574-0600 or fill out our online form. With offices in Philadelphia, we proudly serve our neighbors in South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Does My NDA Prevent Me From Calling out Sexual Harassment?

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Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Parties Who Face Contractual Difficulties.

Non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs, are a common component of employment contracts in today’s workplace. They are used to prevent employees from disclosing trade secrets and confidential company information, but do NDAs apply to sexual harassment complaints and other civil rights matters? The answer is complex and depends largely on the terms of your employment.

We will explore this issue and recommend next steps to protect your rights and your interests if you experience sexual harassment at work.

NDAs as a Tool to Keep Employees Quiet About Workplace Harassment

It makes sense that companies want to keep trade secrets under wraps. If inside company information gets out, it could seriously impact their bottom line. But is it fair to expect employees to keep the details of a sexual harassment complaint confidential?

It may not seem fair, but it is possible. Your right to speak out depends on the confidentiality agreement you sign when you take a job or settle a harassment case.

An Example of an NDA in a Settlement Agreement

Let us take the example of a male worker who files a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor who repeatedly asks him out on a date—while he repeatedly declines the offer.

His boss even promises him a raise if he consents to a romantic relationship with her. When he declines again, she gives the job to another employee with less skills and experience. This scenario has all of the components of a valid sexual harassment case.

After finally having enough, he reports his supervisor. With texts and emails to support his claims, the employer has no choice but to act. To avoid litigation, the company negotiates a settlement with the employee. They agree to compensate the employee with a caveat—he must agree not to disclose the amount of the settlement or the details of the allegations.

If the employee violates this provision, the employer can sue them in civil court. However, because lawsuits are public record, they may refrain from enforcing an NDA to keep the case as quiet as possible.

There are other ways to discourage an employee from speaking out. Some settlement agreements contain a provision that states they can stop paying the employee if that employee discloses privileged information. Other settlement agreements have a “liquidated damages” clause that requires an employee who violates an NDA to pay the company a specific amount of money.

Why Are NDAs Problematic in Sexual Harassment Cases?

Of course, employers do not want the public to find out about sexual harassment and other civil rights violations that occur in the workplace. But when we are quiet about these pervasive issues, they are more likely to continue.

As we have seen with the recent “Me Too” movement, shedding light on the problem is the key to awareness and prevention of sexual harassment. Everyone deserves a safe, equitable, and inclusive work environment.

Bill 849: Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act

NDAs that prevent individuals from speaking out about harassment may be a thing of the past in Pennsylvania if House Bill 849 is approved. The bill, which has been referred to the state senate’s Labor and Industry committee for approval, would ban NDAs related to sexual harassment as a requirement for employment—unless it was agreed to by both parties.

Federally, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in September unanimously approved the Speak Out Act, a bill that invalidates NDAs specifically designed to prevent employees from publicly disclosing instances of workplace sexual harassment or assault in order to prevent future harm to others. Similar state bills have already been passed in New York, New Jersey, California, and Illinois.

Currently in Pennsylvania, your NDA precludes you from sharing your experience, you can face possible legal action, damages, or a smaller settlement if you do. It is best to have your Philadelphia employment lawyer review any employment contract, non-disclosure agreement, or settlement agreement before you sign. This way, you are fully-informed of your rights and obligations at all times.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, P.C., Are Committed to Protecting Clients’ Civil Rights

If you have experienced sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination at your job, the skilled Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, P.C. can help. Established in 1958, we have a proven track record of success achieving good outcomes for our clients. Call 215-574-0600 or contact the firm online to schedule a consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve all of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

How To Recognize Same-Sex Sexual Harassment?

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Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Uphold Worker Rights.

Many people think of sexual harassment as occurring between a man and a woman. HR departments most frequently hear reports of sexual harassment caused by males.

Many instances of same-sex sexual harassment also occur. The instances generally are less frequent, but are just as harmful as opposite-sex sexual harassment. Job providers also are just as liable when it occurs.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws against workplace sexual harassment. Victims of workplace sexual harassment could file complaints that the EEOC will review. When harassment is confirmed, the victim can file a federal lawsuit against the employer and anyone involved in the harassment.

Common Reasons for Same-Sex Harassment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 defines sexual harassment as unwelcome behaviors or actions that are sexual in nature and create a hostile work environment. It also is illegal to demand sexual favors in exchange for employment or job assignments.

Sexual harassment is not necessarily done to obtain sexual favors. Harassers often do it to intimidate the target and cause that person to be distressed. Same-sex harassment is no different.

Many times, the harassment is done to:

  • Coerce and threaten an individual
  • Degrade and demean someone
  • Make the target quit a job

A single incident does not automatically qualify as sexual harassment. An offensive comment or general teasing does not amount to sexual harassment, but it likely would violate workplace rules.

The activity rises to the level of sexual harassment when it is done to obtain sexual favors or creates a hostile work environment. Seeking sexual favors is a fairly simple concept, but a hostile work environment is more complicated.

A harasser could create a hostile work environment in many ways.

The individual might tell offensive jokes of a sexual nature or make generally offensive comments about your appearance. The harasser might circulate pornographic content or partially or fully nude photos.

Even ridiculing a person for not conforming to an expected standard of behavior could qualify as sexual harassment. For example, a male coworker might continually refer to another male as a “girl” or use degrading terms based on that person’s perceived sexual preferences.

No matter the reason, when sexual harassment occurs, your employer is responsible for putting an end to it.

Reporting Same-Sex Sexual Harassment and Other Offenses

If you are subject to sexual harassment from the same sex or anyone else, your employer is responsible for correcting the matter. You should be able to report the problem to your supervisor and investigate the matter.

If your supervisor is the cause of the harassment, someone with authority over that individual should correct the problem. That person might be the owner or another highly placed individual.

At all times, your employer is responsible for maintaining a safe work environment. When sexual harassment of any sort creates a hostile work environment, ignoring it or retaliating against a worker for reporting the problem is against the law.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Uphold Worker Rights

Victims of sexual harassment from the same sex or anyone else can get help from our experienced Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our Philadelphia law office. We represent clients in South Jersey and throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Can Misconduct at an Off-Site Work Party Qualify as Sexual Harassment?

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off-site-Sexual Harassment

Many employers have codes of conduct or otherwise generally accepted standards of behavior that workers and manager must follow. Under the best of circumstances, codes of conduct promote a safe work environment. They also help to prevent workers from embarrassing their employers through criminal activity or other unacceptable behavior that might trigger the need for legal assistance from an experienced lawyer.

Employer-enforced codes of conduct clearly apply in the workplace, but just how far that workplace responsibility extends could become the crux of a lawsuit. A recent example of a Tennessee sexual harassment case regarded off-site activities involving off-the-clock employees that eventually entered the workplace.

The event began as an October Halloween costume party that started at the restaurant where attendees worked in 2017. The organizers were in managerial positions and encouraged workers to drink, gave them discounted drink coupons, and sold alcohol to the workers. After the party concluded, several attendees continued the festivities at the home of another worker.

Sexual Harassment Claim Arises

While at the off-site party, an individual allegedly grabbled a female worker by her neck and suggestively pressed his body into hers on two different occasions while at the party. The individual who pressed his body into the worker was an assistant manager at the restaurant and described as the second-in-command at the workplace.

The apparent victim and several of her coworkers afterward reported the incidents to the manager in charge, but the manager dismissed the actions as acceptable behavior. Upon learning of others who experienced the same treatment from the same individual that night, the woman filed a written sexual harassment complaint.

Workplace Retaliation Alleged

Despite a female worker complaining about sexual harassment from a manager and corroborating accounts from others, the worker’s employer did nothing, which gave rise to workplace retaliation. The complaints and initial reaction by management all agreed that the assistant manager in question clearly engaged in the behaviors mentioned. The assistant manager clearly was in a position of power over others and allegedly engaged in unwanted touching and downright unlawful behavior.

However, instead of investigating the complaint, the manager in charge, who also is female, dismissed the matter and blamed the female workers for dressing scantily. The complaining worker afterward says she endured workplace retaliation and ongoing harassment from the assistant manager, including outside her home. The assistant manager maintained his position of power over several women who complained about his behavior, and those workers were forced to serve him whenever he ate at the restaurant.

The worker who complained the most says her managers reduced her work hours and gave her less-favorable work assignments that greatly reduced her tips and work income. The woman also was reprimanded for wearing alleged inappropriate clothing during the Halloween party and was the only worker reprimanded for the claimed offense. She filed a sexual harassment complaint that went to a state trial court.

Courts Weigh Case Merits

The subsequent showed the manager in question was drunk and allegedly made at least five women fear for their safety due to his behavior at the after-hours party. The court ultimately ruled the event took place outside of the workplace, was voluntary, and any alleged sexual assault was not work-related. An appellate court disagreed, however.

An appeal of the lower court’s decision eventually resulted in a judgment against the workplace and the manager in question. The appellate court determined the after-party was a continuation of the word-sponsored event and that employer reasonably should have known about the unsavory behaviors of the manager in question.

The case clearly illustrates the complexities of workplace responsibilities by employers and how even off-site events could trigger the need for services from an experienced lawyer.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Resolve Off-Site Sexual Harassment Cases

The Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. help clarify complicated legal matters in the workplace, such as liability for off-site sexual harassment. It may be difficult to pursue a lawsuit regarding after-hours sexual harassment, but we can help you build a strong case. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for an initial consultation. We are located in Philadelphia, and we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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How Important is Confidentiality in a Sexual Harassment Case?

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When a person is victimized by sexual harassment at work, it can be an awkward and embarrassing situation for them. They might feel uncomfortable at work, but they might also feel scared. They might want to tell someone but are afraid to talk for fear of retaliation. There are options for them to tell their story and maintain their confidentiality. As for those that can be targets of sexual harassment claims in the office, the question of confidentiality can be an important one, especially if the accusation is false or made with ill intentions. A false claim can get out and haunt a person throughout their career.

Is My Case Confidential with a Lawyer?

For those who suffered from sexual harassment at work and found that their employers have not been responsive to their claims, they can turn to an employment lawyer for help in the matter. They can feel confident that their story will remain between them and their legal representative. Lawyers are obligated by client confidentiality, meaning that what is said between the two parties remains between them. This rule allows them to speak freely with a client and gather all the information necessary to properly build a case.

The privilege covers potential clients, as well as if someone meets with a lawyer during an initial consultation, they should feel comfortable sharing their story. Even if after that meeting, the two sides decide not to continue with their professional relationship, the lawyer cannot disclose the details of that conversation with a third party. When a lawyer decides to take on a sexual harassment case, they can file the case without disclosing the victim’s name in the court documents. The identity of the victim might still be known by others related to the case or inferred from co-workers due to circumstances. However, if others attempt to look up the case, the name and other specific details will not be included in the final report.

Confidentiality During an Investigation

When an employee comes forward with a sexual harassment claim, it is a serious accusation that the company must treat as such. Once an accusation is made, a full investigation will be conducted to look into the accusation to verify its validity. The supervisor will either appoint someone to conduct the inquiry or do it themselves. There will be two goals of the investigation. The first is to obtain all the facts about the situation and get to the truth. The second, is to prevent any future problems from taking place again or stopping the ongoing abuse.

During an investigation, the person conducting the investigation must try to maintain the highest level of confidentiality as possible and protect the identities of the alleged victim and accuser. The investigator will have to disclose to the alleged abuser about the accusation and where it comes from and disclose some information to the people that were questioned. However, if the facts of the situation get out before a full and proper investigation, either the alleged accuser or harasser could sue on a few grounds.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Advocate for Victims of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

If you feel that you have been the subject of sexual harassment at work or you have been falsely accused of harassing someone at your workplace, contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We will investigate your case and determine the next best steps. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

Recent Study Reveals Extent of Sexual Harassment in Workplace Culture

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A recent survey of 2,120 legal professionals indicated that sexual harassment continues to be a serious problem in the workplace. The study, released by Women Lawyers on Guard, was reviewed in a July 2020 article published in the ABA Journal. The study focused on the effects of sexual harassment, as well as how sexual harassment in the workplace has evolved during the past 30 years. The study concluded that sexual harassment is deeply embedded in workplace culture, and only by changing that culture can progress be achieved.

Survey respondents were asked to characterize sexual harassment incidents in the workplace they experienced in the past 30 years. During that time, the study found a decrease in the percentage of sexual assaults and incidents of threats or bribes in exchange for sexual favors. However, incidents of sexually offensive jokes, sexualized name-calling, and rating women have increased. More than one-third of the incidents today occur in off-site business meetings or at the office, and about one in four occur in private.

Effects of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment continues to have negative effects on victims and the workplace environment overall. More than 60 percent of survey respondents reported experiencing anxiety about their careers or workplaces due to sexual harassment. More than one-third believed that the incidents caused a loss in their productivity, and more than one-fourth reported having a negative impact on their careers. Fear of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment was widespread, with 40 percent of respondents replying that this was a concern.

Putting a Stop to Sexual Harassment

It has been more than 55 years since Title VII of the Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of sex. Since that time, most corporations have instituted policies against sexual harassment, requiring employees to attend training courses explaining those policies. Yet, the problem still exists. The Woman Lawyers on Guard study points to several reasons why existing approaches are not working, including the following:

  • Sexual harassment is treated as a compliance issue rather than a workplace culture issue;
  • Sexual harassment is about power; and
  • Unequal power dynamics in corporate structures foster a workplace culture of sexual harassment.

The study suggests that addressing the underlying power imbalance at work must happen first to combat the problem of sexual harassment. Change starts at the top because workplace culture is shaped by the worst behavior the CEO is willing to tolerate, according to the study.

What Steps Can Organizations Take?

The following are steps organizations can take to begin identifying and addressing cultural issues that allow harassment to continue:

  • Gather baseline data about the workplace. This includes identifying the demographics of those in power and surveying employees using a confidential, anonymous reporting tools.
  • Offer meaningful training. Instead of just showing a video once a year, organizations may consider holding group sessions on topics, such as how bystanders can intervene and stop inappropriate behavior.
  • Consider a no-tolerance policy. Rather than let high-performing employees continually get away with inappropriate behavior, organizations should make it clear that all employees must be respectful no matter how much revenue they bring in.

Any type of sexual harassment in the workplace is counterproductive, whether it meets the legal definition of discrimination or creates a hostile work environment. Changing workplace culture is a long process but a necessary one if companies are to move toward positive change.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Respond to Legal Challenges with Experience and Skill

Sexual harassment in the workplace can damage individual productivity and derail careers. The Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. are familiar with complex legal challenges in cases involving sexual harassment and discrimination. We approach these matters with skill and experience. If you have questions or concerns about sexual harassment in the workplace, discrimination, or any other matter of employment law, call us at 215-574-0600 or fill out our online form. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Second Woman Files EEOC Complaint Against DLA Piper Partner

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A former Human Resources (“HR”) manager with DLA Piper filed an anonymous complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against one of the company’s partners. The complaint alleges that the partner intimidated her, and that it got to the point where she felt afraid when they were in the office together. Despite a history of positive performance reviews, the HR manager was fired after she complained about the partner’s inappropriate behavior. This was the second woman to file an EEOC complaint against them.

The first complaint was filed against the firm by one of its junior partners, alleging that the partner sexually assaulted her on numerous occasions. In an open letter to the firm, she requested that she be released from the mandatory arbitration agreement so that she could pursue her claims in court. While the firm has not publicly responded to the arbitration request, they did announce that the partner had been let go. However, the junior partner was also put on leave, which her lawyer saw as a smear campaign against a female victim of sexual assault.

The new claimant says she was fired from DLA Piper after she complained about the partner’s inappropriate behavior. She alleged that she and other female employees at the firm felt uncomfortable being in an office alone with the partner, particularly if the door was closed. The details of her allegations are included in a supplemental letter that was sent to the EEOC as part of the initial charge. She is requesting that the EEOC investigate her complaint in conjunction with the initial complaint that was filed by the first complainant and expand the investigation to include a proposed class. According to the letter, there is a pattern of intimidation and retaliation for speaking out against sexually inappropriate behavior by male employees against the proposed class.

Examples of Alleged Abuse

The former HR Manager said that she was ordered to fire an administrative assistant who was over the age of 40, and who had a record of positive performance reviews. Rather than fire her, she transferred the employee to a different office. The partner was allegedly furious at the manager for not following his orders and threatened her by saying that she would be dealt with. Another female employee said that the partner expected women to tolerate his behavior if he paid them extra cash.

DLA Piper released a statement saying that the latest allegations were designed to distract from an ongoing investigation involving the junior partner that was fired. They deny that the partner sexually assaulted or harassed any female employees and was only guilty of poor judgment for having a relationship with an employee.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Protect Victims of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

If you or a loved one was sexually harassed or assaulted at work, do not hesitate to contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We will protect your legal rights and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-547-0600 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Employee Terminated for Legitimate Reasons Despite Claims of Hostile Work Environment and Retaliation

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On February 13, 2018, a jury found in favor of a defendant employer against a plaintiff alleging hostile work environment and retaliation. In Johnson v. Keystone Quality Transp. Co., Johnson, a former employee of Keystone working as a paratransit van driver, alleged hostile work environment and retaliation after she was terminated. No. 2:16-cv-06603-GJP. Johnson alleged claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et. seq. (“Title VII”) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. §§ 951, et. seq. (“PHRA”).

According to the Complaint, while working at Keystone, Johnson’s supervisor began sexually harassing and assaulting her, including sending inappropriate pictures of himself and groping her more than once. Once Johnson reported the harassment, the supervisor was terminated by Keystone for his actions. However, about a week later, Plaintiff was suspended and ultimately fired. In her suit, Johnson alleged she was terminated in retaliation for reporting the harassment.

Keystone successfully rebutted Johnson’s claims by proving that Johnson’s suspension was a result of taking the wrong vehicle and preventing the use of another vehicle as she had the set of car keys on her. Keystone argued that after the suspension was over, Johnson was not terminated, but rather she abandoned her job, as she failed to come back to work. Weighing the facts of the case, a jury determined there was no sexual harassment or retaliation by Keystone against Johnson.

For more information, call our Philadelphia employment lawyers in Philadelphia at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 or submit an online inquiry.

Court Defines Supervisor Under Title VII

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently issued a precedential opinion interpreting what it means to be a supervisor in a hostile work environment case. The Court found that a supervisor is someone who controls a sizeable amount of the hours employees work, and/or someone who determines whether employees will be assigned work.

Moody v. Atlantic City Board of Education

Employee Michelle Moody was hired by the Atlantic City Board of Education (BOE) to serve as a substitute custodian in 2011. Moody alleged that she was unhappy with the unsteady nature of her employment, as she was only gainfully employed when the primary custodian could not work. She wanted to work more hours and raised her concerns with a member of the BOE, who suggested that she speak to the custodial foremen of different districts. The BOE member told her that these foremen were responsible for delegating authority to select which substitute custodian would fill in at schools in their respective districts.

Moody then contacted 10 foremen from different school districts, including one named Maurice Marshall. Marshall allegedly began harassing Moody immediately after she started work. According to the Court’s opinion, he allegedly suggested that he would give her more work if she performed sexual favors for him. After a litany of disturbing incidents, including explicit text messages, unwanted sexual contact, and unwanted visits to her home, Moody succumbed to Marshall’s unwanted advances. Although she never received more work hours, after reporting Marshall, her work hours steadily declined.

Determining the Meaning of Supervisor

Moody filed a claim in the District of New Jersey, which was ultimately dismissed on grounds that Marshall was not her supervisor, and that she suffered no tangible adverse employment action. The Third Circuit reversed that decision after an extensive review of Marshall’s role in assigning work to other employees. The Court examined a U.S. Supreme Court precedent that interpreted the term of supervisor. Ultimately, the Third Circuit determined that Marshall had the power to decide whether Moody worked at all and had authority to set her hours, falling under the Supreme Court’s definition of a supervisor. The court also found that during the times Moody was chosen to fill in at Marshall’s school, he was her immediate supervisor.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Handle All Types of Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Employment Claims

If you have suffered adverse employment action due to sexual harassment or discrimination, you may be entitled to compensation. To arrange a consultation with one of our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C., call us today at 215-574-0600, or contact us online.