Gift-giving at work can be a way to show appreciation to employees and coworkers, but unwanted gifts can cross the line into harassment. If you have been receiving gifts of a romantic or sexual nature in the workplace, you may have grounds for a sexual harassment claim.
At Castronovo & McKinney, we are highly experienced in handling workplace harassment claims in arbitration and court proceedings. We know that unwanted gifts can not only ruin a working relationship but also create a hostile work environment.
If you have been receiving sexually charged gifts from a supervisor or coworker, we can help. Contact our Morristown or Manhattan office today to speak with an experienced sexual harassment attorney.
Unwated Sexual Gift-Giving Is Harassment in New Jersey
It is never appropriate for a supervisor or coworker to give another a sexual gift, regardless of whether the gift is intended as a sexual advance or a joke. An unwanted gift can make the recipient feel awkward and uncomfortable. In any event, sexual gift-giving is considered sexual harassment, of which there are two types – quid pro quo and hostile work environment:
The former occurs when a supervisor or person in a position of authority makes sexual demands in exchange for a benefit of employment (e.g. promotion, raise, plum job assignment). The latter refers to an environment in which an employee is made to feel uncomfortable and unable to perform his or her job duties.
Unwanted gifts can occur in both situations. Sexual gift-giving may be a form of quid pro quo harassment when the giver is a supervisor who is trying to send a message to the employee. The fact that a sexual gift is unwanted can also create a hostile environment, regardless of whether the giver is a supervisor, coworker, or third party (e.g. client, customer, vendor).
Examples of Unwanted Gifts
While gag gifts are common and office parties and work events, gifts of a sexual or romantic nature can cross the line, such as:
- Romantic jewelry
- Personal care products
- Sex toys
While the intent of a romantic gift may differ from that of a sexual gift, a romantic can still create discomfort when it is unwanted and the recipient does not share any romantic feelings with the giver.
I received a sexual gift at work. What should I do?
If you have received a sexual or romantic gift from anyone in the workplace, the first thing to do is let the giver know the gift is wanted and not to do it again. You should also report the gift to another supervisor or human resources personnel. You may have a valid sexual harassment claim whether the gift was an isolated incident or you receive multiple sexual gifts.
If the giver was a supervisor or other person in a position of authority, your employer may be held strictly liable. If the giver was a coworker or third party, your employer may be liable if the company knew about the unwanted gift and failed to stop the giver by taking disciplinary action. If the unwanted gifts continue and/or your employer fails to take corrective action, you should consult with an experienced sexual harassment attorney.
Why Choose Us Regarding Unwanted Gifts
Our firm regularly handles sexual harassment claims, including those arising from unwanted sexual gifts. When you consult with us, we will listen carefully to your story and determine whether you have a valid claim. If so, we will:
- Conduct a thorough investigation
- Identify and interview witnesses
- Obtain and review personnel records to determine whether the offender has a history of sexual misconduct at work
- Handle all communications with your employer and their attorneys
- Negotiate a settlement on your behalf
- File a sexual harassment lawsuit if necessary
We understand that victims of sexual harassment in the workplace are often reluctant to come forward or take legal action because they feel humiliated or fear retaliation. You should know that your employer cannot retaliate against you in any way for complaining about sexual harassment.
Damages Our Attorneys Can Help You Recover
Although no two sexual harassment claims are the same, you may be awarded compensatory damages for lost wages, bonuses, and benefits. In addition, you may be entitled to liquidated damages up to two times the amount of your lost wage if your employer knew about the unwarned gifts and failed to take corrective action. Liquidated damages are intended to punish an employer for failing to prevent sexual harassment.
Under New Jersey law, you may also be awarded attorneys’ fees and costs, which means that you will not have any out-of-pocket legal costs. More than winning compensation, you will feel empowered knowing that you have fought back against workplace harassment and may very well encourage other victims to come forward.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers
If you have received unwanted sexual or romantic gifts at work, you may be alarmed and not know where to turn. Remember, our sexual harassment lawyers are here to help. Contact our office today so we can start working on your claim.
Castronovo & McKinney, LLC helps clients with sexual harassment 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.