Have you been sexually harassed in NJ?
Many people talk about harassment at work or a hostile work environment. But the legal definition of these terms is very different from the ordinary understanding. The law defines sexual harassment as severe or persistent abuse directed at a worker (usually a woman) because of sex or gender that alters the terms and conditions of employment. New Jersey sexual harassment can mean unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors (quid pro quo sexual harassment), and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
Harassment does not have to be sexual in nature and includes offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive or chauvinistic comments about women in general. Both the victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area of the company, a coworker, or a customer.
Illegal harassment can also include harassing conduct of an employee based upon the harasser’s perception of the employee. For example, if men perceive a male coworker as effeminate and harass him on that basis, then it constitutes sexual harassment. Similarly, if women abuse another woman because she is viewed as particularly feminine or masculine, then that conduct also is unlawful sexual harassment.
But it is not enough to prove only that the New Jersey sexual harassment happened. In a court of law, the employee must also show that the employer should be held responsible for the harasser’s conduct. An employer is liable for sexual harassment if it failed to implement an effective anti-harassment policy for its workers. Obviously, if the employer has no anti-harassment policy, then it will be liable. In most cases, though, the employer maintains a written sexual harassment policy. Under that circumstance, the employer’s sexual harassment policy will be ineffective if: supervisors observed the harassment and did nothing, the victim reported the sexual harassment to HR or a supervisor yet the harassment continued, or if the sexual harassment resulted in the victim’s employment ending – either by a firing or a force resignation called constructive termination.
Contact the employment lawyers at Castronovo & McKinney to discuss your New Jersey sexual harassment case.