Last updated Nov. 6, 2020
We Handle Sexual Harassment Claims Throughout New Jersey
State and federal laws in New Jersey prohibit sex discrimination in the workplace. That prohibition extends to sexual harassment, which can include any unwanted speech or conduct of a sexual nature. No one, female or male, should have to endure unwanted sexual advances, comments, or touching in the workplace. This holds true whether the harassing party is the opposite or the same sex as the victim. Moreover, no one, female or male, should have to suffer adverse employment treatment – even of a non-sexual nature – due simply to gender.
At Zatuchni & Associates, our New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer is a skilled and effective advocate for employee rights. We fight tirelessly to put a stop to sexual harassment in the workplace and get our clients justice and accountability. Our employment law firm is experienced in pursuing and resolving workplace sexual harassment claims under both state and federal law in New Jersey. If you have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, contact our law firm for a free case review. Initial consultations are strictly confidential and there is no obligation.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, and it is illegal under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act. Under all three of these laws, courts generally classify sexual harassment into one of two categories: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment. Here is a basic overview of the two primary forms of workplace sexual harassment:
- Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: This occurs when an employer or its agent attempts to make a submission to sexual demands a condition of employment. For instance, an employer (or an agent, such as a supervisor) might communicate to a worker that he or she must tolerate advances, gropings, or even sexual relations in order to receive raises and promotions or even just to remain employed. You were a victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment even if a supervisor or employer never followed through. In other words, the mere offer or threat of a quid pro quo arrangement is, by itself, a form of sexual harassment.
- Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment: This occurs when a worker is subjected to offensive conduct based on his or her sex and such conduct is so severe or pervasive that it renders the workplace untenable or even abusive. It can include unwelcome “jokes,” gestures, taunts, and physical contact. Hostile work environment sexual harassment claims are especially complex. It is not always clear as to what constitutes “severe” or “pervasive” harassment. Still, if you were made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe at work, you should consult with an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment attorney.
Federal and New Jersey Laws Prohibit Workplace Sexual Harassment
State and federal law in New Jersey prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace, including sexual harassment. Case law is clear: Sexual harassment is a form of sex-based discrimination. Anyone who endured unlawful sexual harassment at their job has rights under anti-discrimination laws. Both state and federal sex & gender discrimination laws protect workers against workplace sexual harassment.
In New Jersey, the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) provides that it is an unlawful employment practice or unlawful discrimination for an employer to do any of the following things because of a person’s sex:
- Refuse to hire or employ the person;
- To bar, discharge, or require the person to retire from employment; or
- To discriminate against the person in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act imposes a similar restriction.
However, these three laws provide for different enforcement mechanisms. Under federal law, a person who has been subject to sexual harassment in the workplace must first file his or her claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In contrast, laws in New Jersey permit a person to file a lawsuit in court as a first step.
Remedies for violations of these laws can include compensatory damages and, in particularly egregious cases, punitive damages. Relief may also involve ordering an employer to correct the situation in his or her workplace, such as by reinstating a wrongfully terminated employee or providing back pay commensurate with a wrongfully withheld pay raise or promotion.
Examples of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment at work can take many forms and can come from many sources. It may be committed by male or female coworkers or supervisors, and it may target male or female employees. Examples of sexual harassment can include:
- Offensive sexual or sexist comments or jokes;
- Sexual advances and requests for sexual favors;
- Physical harassment such as unwelcome touching or groping, even if “in jest;”
- Sexual coercion, including rape;
- Viewing pornography at work;
- Repeatedly asking for a date after being turned down; and
- Many other types of unwelcome comments or conduct of a sexual nature.
In some cases, sexual harassment is egregious. In other cases, it is more subtle. Regardless of the type of sexual harassment you endured in the workplace, please do not assume that you are without rights or options. We encourage you to schedule a free, confidential consultation with our New Jersey employment attorney.
Employers Have a Duty to Prevent, Investigate Sexual Harassment
In New Jersey, employers have an affirmative duty to protect workers from sexual harassment. Simple ignorance is not necessarily a valid defense in a sexual harassment lawsuit. A company or organization may be responsible for harassment committed by many different parties. Indeed, a New Jersey employer may be held legally liable for sexual harassment if the perpetrator was any of the following:
- The business owner;
- Managers or supervisors;
- Co-workers and other employees; and
- Clients and customers.
Companies and organizations should implement proper protocols to stop sexual harassment in the workplace from happening in the first place. Additionally, when sexual harassment is reported by an employee, the employer has a duty to take the complaint seriously, treat the employee fairly, investigate the matter, and take the appropriate action to address the problem. Failure to do so is an indication that an employer is not living up to its legal obligations.
You have a Right to Report Workplace Sexual Harassment
Many employees are worried about what will happen when they report sexual harassment. This is an especially pressing concern for people who were harassed by their boss or another supervisor. Understandably, employees worry that their employer will take advantage of the power dynamics and punish them for asserting their rights. Please know it is strictly unlawful for a New Jersey employer to take any adverse employment action against an employee who reported sexual harassment—either formally or informally.
Punishing an employee who asserts their rights—including their right to complain about sexual harassment—is known as retaliation. It is a serious violation of state and federal law. Retaliation comes in many different forms. Among other things, it may involve re-assigning an employee to a lower-paying or otherwise less-prestigious position; passing over the employee for a promotion, or giving an unusually poor performance review following a complaint. If you or your loved one was the victim was mistreated after reporting sexual harassment, you need legal help. Call our New Jersey workplace retaliation attorney right away.
How New Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyer David Zatuchni Can Help
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a continuing problem throughout the United States. Fortunately, the federal government and New Jersey have long made such conduct unlawful in an effort to stamp out sex discrimination at work. Still, navigating the legal claims process can be challenging. Our founding attorney David Zatuchni is an experienced employee rights advocate. When you reach out to us, you will speak directly to a New Jersey employment lawyer who will:
- Conduct a free, confidential review of your sexual harassment case;
- Answer any questions you have about your rights or your legal options;
- Investigate the incident—gathering evidence to support your claim;
- Handle any correspondence or settlement talks with your employer; and
- Devise a strategy focused on getting you the best possible outcome.
Our New Jersey employment law firm handles sexual harassment claims with the highest level of care, sensitivity, and professional skill. We will take the approach that you are most comfortable with—we understand how challenging it can be to fight back against workplace harassment. You deserve personalized guidance and representation from a top New Jersey sexual harassment attorney.
Stop Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Contact a New Jersey Employment Lawyer Today
At Zatuchni & Associates, our New Jersey employment attorney has the skills, knowledge, and expertise to represent employees in sexual harassment claims. We are zealous advocates for worker rights. If you believe you are being subjected to either form of sexual harassment, the law is on your side in New Jersey. Contact us today for a free consultation so we can discuss your situation in detail. From our office locations in Morristown and Lambertville, we handle sexual harassment claims throughout New Jersey.