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Holding Your New Jersey Employer Liable for Sexual Harassment

By Thomas McKinney

Sexual harassment continues to be a pervasive problem in American workplaces. It is considered to be a form of unlawful discrimination pursuant to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. While most people will be able to recognize sexual harassment when they see it or experience it, holding an employer accountable for sexual harassment you may have experienced in the workplace can be much more complicated, though not impossible. Here, we will take a closer look at how and under what circumstances you may be able to hold your New Jersey employer liable for sexual harassment.

Holding Your New Jersey Employer Liable for Sexual Harassment

There are two main forms of sexual harassment for which an employer may be held liable. The first is referred to as “quid pro quo” harassment. With quid pro quo harassment, the claimant asserts that an employer has attempted to manipulate them, the employee, by making a sexual demand or proposition a condition of employment. Quid pro quo harassment often arises in the form of an employer either threatening an adverse employment action or withholding a positive employment action unless the employee complies with the sexual proposition.

The other form of sexual harassment involves an employee claiming a hostile work environment exists due to sexual harassment occurring in the workplace. In order to bring a hostile work environment claim, the behavior in question must have been contingent on the sex of the employee and must rise to the level of severity and pervasiveness that would make a reasonable person believe that there would be adverse employment consequences and that the working environment was hostile.

Hostile work environment claims often involve many different incidences of sexual harassment. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court has held that one incident of workplace harassment may be enough to establish a hostile work environment if that incident was severe enough. In either case, you will need proof of the harassment in order to hold your employer liable. Furthermore, there must be proof that your employer was negligent or reckless in playing a role in the harassment or in blatantly ignoring that the harassment was, in fact, occurring. In other words, you would need proof that your employer either knew or should have known of the sexual harassment but failed to properly address the issue.

In a sexual harassment claim, you will also need to be able to identify damages you suffered as a result of the sexual harassment. Often, employees who seek damages resulting from sexual harassment will request equitable damage. Equitable relief is different from money damages. Instead, it is a request to “make things fair.” This may mean restoring the victim to their former employment position or having the court order the employer to perform a particular act such as putting a stop to the harassment.

Employment Law Attorneys

If you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, you can talk to the team at Castronovo & McKinney about your legal options. Contact us today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.