Some people in Pennsylvania try to dodge sexual harassment accusations by claiming that they were just “joking around.” While a single offhand comment may not merit you filing a lawsuit, you may be able to initiate one if the harassment creates a hostile work environment.

When sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment

“Joking around” becomes sexual harassment when it creates a hostile work environment that makes it difficult to do your job. For example, you may feel uncomfortable or stressed at work and have trouble focusing on your tasks. You may dread coming to work every day because you know you’ll have to deal with unwanted comments. The perpetrator may even harass you so often that it takes you away from your daily tasks.

When you report the issue to HR or management, it’s your employer’s responsibility to take action. If they don’t, they’re helping create a hostile work environment along with the perpetrator. Your employment law attorney may recommend bringing this up as part of your lawsuit.

Sexual harassment can take the form of unwanted comments, sexual remarks, inappropriate jokes or requests for sexual favors. The perpetrator may also show you obscene images or videos. These behaviors can all create a hostile work environment that makes you think about quitting your job.

What should you do about sexual harassment?

Everyone has the right to a safe, comfortable work environment. If your manager or co-worker commits sexual harassment, they may be breaking the law — and your employer may be breaking the law if they don’t do anything about it. An attorney could help you file a sexual harassment lawsuit against your company. You may have to prove that sexual harassment took place and affected your ability to work.