Sexual harassment

#MeToo Movement in Massachusetts

#MeToo Movement in Massachusetts
In October 2017 the nation was hit with a movement that was drastically overdue, the #MeToo movement. The movement was a viral sensation in which victims of sexual harassment came forward in droves to proclaim that they too have been victims, many of whom shared their stories in hopes that it would bring attention to sexual harassment and would likewise encourage others who have not reported their sexual harassment to come forward.

One of the most important aspects to the #MeToo movement is letting victims of sexual harassment to know that they are not alone. Too often victims feel as though they will be ostracized and retaliated against for coming forward. The #MeToo movement has brought this issue to the forefront of discrimination and has empowered victims to no longer remain silent.

In Massachusetts, M.G.L. c. 151B operates to make sexual harassment in the workplace unlawful. In general, there are two main areas of sexual harassment, Quid Pro Quo (this for that), and hostile work environment sexual harassment. Quid Pro Quo consists of a person with authority over another using that authority to force the victim into committing sexual acts that they otherwise would not have performed. For example, conditioning a raise or promotion upon the acceptance of sexual advances. Hostile work environment sexual harassment exists when unwanted comments, action and sexual advances exist and cause an interference with one’s ability to perform their job. Both are unlawful and can subject the perpetrators and their employers to various forms of damages.

If you believe that you have been a victim of unlawful sexual harassment it is important that you make a complaint right away. In addition to providing your employer with important information that […]

The Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer

There are many reasons for hiring an attorney.  The law can be complex and confusing and it may be difficult to ascertain your rights amidst the barrage of advice from well meaning friends and family. The need for a lawyer can arise out of discrimination in the workplace, modification of a child support order, personal injuries, and assistance in securing unemployment benefits among other matters. In these and other situations there are distinct advantages to having an attorney who will fight for your rights.

Imagine a woman who has been mentally and possibly physically abused for years, shaking with fear while presenting her case to the Court.  On the other side, the husband is represented by an attorney who is able to verbalize the issues without emotion and present the facts in the light most favorable to the husband.  The wife, however, may be nervous and unable to verbalize her thoughts to properly convey her story and request the relief she is seeking.  The wife wants to explain how the husband has refused to get a job, managed to isolate her from her friends, filled the house with garbage, and convinced her that he would take her children away from her if she ever tried to leave.  While the situation may appear clear that information must be clearly conveyed to the judge who will make a decision based only on the information and evidence presented.  After losing some ground in an unsuccessful initial hearing, the woman was able to borrow money from a family member and secure her own counsel.

The attorney became the voice that this woman could not find. With the help of her newly hired counsel, the parties settled out of court and […]

What types of comments and conduct constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace?

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
There are two basic categories of sexual harassment under Federal and Massachusetts law. The various types of sexual comments and sexual conduct should be considered with respect to these two categories of sexual harassment.

The two basic categories of sexual harassment are as follows:

1) “Quid Pro Quo” sexual harassment, and

2) “Hostile Work Environment” sexual harassment.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 151B defines “quid pro quo” sexual harassment as: “sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when . . . submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment decisions.”

In other words, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employee with authority or control over another employee, offers that employee an employment benefit or advantage in exchange for sexual favors or sexual gratification. Quid pro quo sexual harassment also occurs if an employee is denied an employment benefit or advantage after refusing or rejecting a request for sexual favors or sexual acts. Examples of employment benefits or advantages include continued employment/termination, demotion/promotion, alteration of job duties, transfer of job location, changes to hours or compensation, warnings, and inaccurate job performance evaluations and reviews.

Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment

Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 151B defines “hostile work environment” sexual harassment as: “sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when . . . such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.”

In other words, hostile work […]