NJ Sexual Harassment Law — Sexually Harassed at Work?

Under New Jersey law, sexual harassment in the workplace is an outlawed form of sex discrimination.  To prove sexual harassment, an employee (usually a woman) must show: (1) the complained-of conduct would not have occurred but for her sex, (2) the conduct was severe or pervasive enough to make (3) a reasonable woman believe that (4) the working environment is hostile or abusive.  When the harassing conduct is sexual or sexist in nature, the “but-for” sex condition is automatically satisfied.

In analyzing whether a sexually hostile work environment exists, the Court looks to the character of the work environment, therefore, the employee need not personally have been the target of each instance of harassment.  As a result, when a woman has witnessed obscenities in the workplace that are not directed at her or becomes aware of them through co-workers, then those incidents must be considered in determining whether a sexually hostile work environment exists.

Even if you have been sexually harassed at work, your employer is legally responsible only when it condones the harassment.  Your employer will be held responsible if: (1) the harasser was your supervisor, or (2) you reported harassment by a co-worker and your employer failed to stop it, or (3) your company fired you or forced you to quit to get away from the harassment.  The employer is responsible in each situation because it is considered to have approved the harassment.

March 18, 2011 – Castronovo & McKinney – Paul Castronovo