Identifying a Hostile Work Environment in New Jersey
Hostile work environment is one of the forms of sexual harassment, the other being “quid pro quo harassment,” which occurs when a person in a position of authority makes sexual advances or demands of an employee or job applicant in return for a benefit of employment. A hostile work environment differs in that it involves offensive comments, conduct, or displays by anyone in the workplace: owners, executives, supervisors, coworkers, contractors, vendors, clients, and customers.
It is important to note that a hostile work environment is not merely one that is unpleasant. In order to be considered hostile, the offensive comments or conduct must be severe or pervasive enough to interfere with an employee’s ability to perform his or her job duties.
For example, an employee who has a sexually explicit screen saver on their computer can create a hostile work environment, while a client who makes sexually derogatory remarks about an employee can also be held responsible for sexual harassment.
In addition, the hostile behavior or comments must be associated with discrimination, harassment, or some other form of unlawful conduct. This means that the harassing conduct directed at a member of a protected class under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), such as:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation, identity
In other words, this type of work environment can impact anyone in the workplace regardless of the sex, other protected status, or status in the workplace. More often than not, women are the target of this unlawful form of workplace harassment, but men can be victimized as well, and race-based harassment is not uncommon.
In particular, types of misconduct that may be considered hostile include:
- Making inappropriate comments about a female employee’s appearance
- Making racist jokes/comments
- Harassing or mocking a disabled employee
- Continuously asking an older coworker when he or she is going to retire
In short, hostile conduct is more than rudeness or inappropriate conduct, but rather a pattern of behavior that (1) alters the terms, conditions, and/or reasonable expectations of a comfortable work environment, and (2) would be considered offensive by a reasonable person in the same circumstances. Ultimately, creating a hostile work environment in New Jersey is a violation of the LAD and victims have a right to take legal action.
Why Choose Our Employment Firm
Given the challenges of proving a sexual harassment claim, it is wise to work with an experienced sexual harassment attorney. Trust Castronovo & McKinney to provide you with a secure environment in which you can make informed decisions about your future and your livelihood.
We know that taking legal action against an employer is never easy, but it may be the most effective way to protect your right to a work environment free from harassment. Above all, our legal team will work tirelessly to make sure your rights and reputation are protected and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your claim.
Our experienced New Jersey sexual harassment lawyers also devise defense strategies for employers facing hostile work environment claims and work with them to establish preventive anti-harassment policies and reporting procedures.
Whether you have been subjected to a hostile work environment or need to defend your business against a sexual harassment claim, we have the knowledge and skill to protect your interests and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
How can I protect myself from a hostile work environment?
While the LAD provides you with powerful legal recourse and allows you to recover compensation for your financial losses (e.g. lost wages, benefits, future income)and emotional distress, there are important steps you can take to protect your rights, including:
- Warn the harasser that the conduct or comments are offensive and will not be tolerated
- Document any incidents of harassment or discrimination in the event the behavior persists and filing a claim becomes necessary
- Report the harassment according to your employer’s anti-harassment policy
- Contact a sexual harassment lawyer if your employer fails to stop the harassment
Above all, our employment law attorneys are dedicated to helping employees and employers create positive work environments free from harassment and find workable solutions to sexual harassment claims.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Hostile Work Environment Attorney
At Castronovo & McKinney, we are committed to eliminating workplace harassment in all its forms. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start working on your hostile work environment claim.
Castronovo & McKinney, LLC helps clients with their hostile work environment claims throughout New Jersey including Bergen County, Essex County, Middlesex County, and Morris County as well as the cities Hackensack, Newark, New Brunswick, and Morristown.