Last updated Aug. 31, 2018.
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.
Zatuchni & Associates is an employment law firm 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.
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.
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.
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 and pervasive that it renders the workplace untenable or even abusive. It can include unwelcome “jokes,” gestures, taunts, and physical contact.
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.
In New Jersey, the Law Against Discrimination 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. 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.
The law also prohibits retaliating against an employee who complains about sexual harassment. Among other things, retaliation 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.
Stop Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Contact a New Jersey Employment Lawyer Today
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.
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.
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