Employment Law For The Real World

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is one of the worst experiences anyone can undergo. It creates intense feelings of humiliation and shame and destroys self-esteem. It prevents an individual from doing their job and also spills over into all aspects of a victim’s life.

Sexual Harassment Occurs Far Too Frequently

Sexual harassment continues to be a significant problem for far too many workers who simply want to go to work, earn a paycheck, and be treated with the dignity and respect that is their right.

Sexual harassment is not only wrong, it is also unlawful, and if you feel that you have been subjected to sexual harassment of any kind, don’t go it alone. At Porter Law, we know what it takes to file a successful sexual harassment claim. If you have suffered illegal sexual harassment, we can help you with this process and protect your rights.

Hostile Work Environment Sex Harassment

There are two kinds of sex harassment. Hostile work environment sex harassment can include unwanted touching, looks, remarks, texts, emails, or pictures of a sexual, severe, or pervasive nature that is offensive to the person who is being subjected to it and would also be objectively offensive to the average reasonable person.

Depending on the severity, one instance could create a hostile work environment, but frequently, it involves multiple instances of harassing behavior.

Quid Pro Quo Sex Harassment

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when another employer – typically, but not always, a supervisor or manager – demands sexual favors in return for a promotion or raise or other improvements in working conditions or threatens some adverse or negative employment action if the sexual favors are refused. In other words, if you do this for me, then I will do that for you, or if you don’t do this for me, then I will do that to you.

Anyone Can Engage In Sexual Harassment

While we typically think of sexual harassment as being committed by a male versus a female co-worker, sexual harassment can be committed by a woman against a man, and can also be committed by a person of the same sex. It can also occur when an employee witnesses sexually offensive conduct toward a co-worker or sexual activity between two co-workers, even if that activity is consensual. It all depends on the circumstances.

Employers Are Liable For Failing To Stop Sexual Harassment

Employers can frequently be held liable for sex harassment committed by their employees. When the sexual harassment is committed by a manager or someone in a supervisory position, the employer may be vicariously or strictly liable, even if the employer didn’t know it was happening.

Even if the perpetrator is not a manager, the employer may still be held liable if they failed to maintain appropriate policies in place to prevent the sexual harassment from occurring in the first place, if they knew or should have known that the sexual harassment was likely to occur and failed to stop it, or if they failed to take prompt remedial action after learning of the harassment.


Retaliation occurs when an employee complains of sexual harassment (they could be either the direct victim or simply a witness), known as protected activity and, rather than addressing the employee’s concerns, the employer takes some kind of negative or adverse employment action against the employee who complained.

Often, but not always, the wrongdoer will get away with no discipline at all because the employer does not know how to investigate the complaint, dismisses the complaint as a “he said/she said” situation, and then tries to solve the problem by forcing the victim to quit by making their working conditions unbearable. Also known as retaliation, these actions are illegal under both state and federal law.

Contact Us

For experienced and compassionate representation for sexual harassment cases, call our Boston office at 617-843-9332 or use our online contact form.