New Jersey law protects workers from sexual harassment in the workplace. These laws prohibit sexual harassment as a form of sexual discrimination. No worker has to put up with harassment in the form of a sexually-charged atmosphere or looming threats of sexual favors. Employees have the right to continue employment free from harassment, with the knowledge that reporting such behaviors cannot result in repercussions at work.
Between federal OSHA laws governing all private companies and the NJ PEOSH State Plan overseeing all NJ public sector workplaces, these sexual harassment laws are in place to protect all workers against gender-based discrimination in the form of sexual harassment.
NJ State Harassment Policy
Under Section II b. of the NJ State Policy Prohibiting Discrimination in the Workplace, it is unlawful to engage in any sexually-based or gender-based discrimination of any kind. This kind of sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature, either verbal or physical.
Both hostile work environment sexual harassment and quid pro quo sexual harassment are prohibited in all forms. Whether the harassment is overt or implied, if a reasonable person would interpret such conduct to limit or reward employment opportunities, or impede an employee’s success on the job, it is considered sexual harassment.
|Sexual harassment can consist of but are not limited to the following acts from the NJ State Harassment Policy:|
|Generalized gender-based remarks and comments;|
|Unwanted physical contact such as intentional touching, grabbing, pinching, brushing against another’s body or impeding or blocking movement;|
|Verbal, written or electronic sexually suggestive or obscene comments, jokes or propositions including letters, notes, e-mail, text messages, invitations, gestures or inappropriate comments about a person’s clothing;|
|Visual contact, such as leering or staring at another’s body; gesturing; displaying sexually suggestive objects, cartoons, posters, magazines or pictures of scantily-clad individuals; or displaying sexually suggestive material on a bulletin board, on a locker room wall, or on a screen saver;|
|Explicit or implicit suggestions of sex by a supervisor or manager in return for a favorable employment action such as hiring, compensation, promotion, or retention;|
|Suggesting or implying that failure to accept a request for a date or sex would result in an adverse employment consequence with respect to any employment practice such as performance evaluation or promotional opportunity; or|
|Continuing to engage in certain behaviors of a sexual nature after an objection has been raised by the target of such inappropriate behavior.|
It is important to note that employees, supervisors, and the overall company or employer all have responsibilities to ensure that complaints of sexual harassment are taken seriously, investigated thoroughly, and seen through to ensure a continued safe work environment.
The employer or company must be sure to publicly post all state discrimination and harassment policies in a prominent location in the workplace. Additionally, they must annually release the entire harassment policy to all employees to ensure that workers are aware of the laws and statutes and how to register a complaint if needed. All state agencies must also train all new hires on these policies and offer updates on a regular basis to all supervisors on how to handle complaints of harassment.
The employee who believes that he or she has been sexually harassed must take the first steps and report any and all behaviors linked to the complaint. Even if the employee is not the person being harassed, but just witnesses the harassment, they are encouraged to report the actions to their supervisor at work or directly to the NJ State agency. Once the complaint is submitted, all employees must cooperate with and abide by the conclusions of the investigation.
Supervisors who receive a complaint of sexual harassment in the workplace is required to report all allegations to the NJ State’s equal employment opportunity officer. If a supervisor fails to follow-up on employee complaints in this manner, the supervisor could receive disciplinary action or even termination.
Retaliation is Prohibited
All employees, whether they are the victims of harassment or witnesses to harassing behaviors, must feel free to report abuses without fear of repercussions. Therefore, New Jersey law also protects those who report harassment against retaliation in the workplace.
This protection ensures that anyone who reports harassment by bringing a complaint to the state’s attention cannot suffer adverse employment consequences for doing so. No employer may terminate or fail to promote an employee for reporting harassment. Additionally, no negative changes to the employee’s schedule, rate of pay, or other work assignment changes may be handed down as punishment for registering a complaint. Even threats, insults or other behaviors that make the employee fee ostracized are prohibited as forms of retaliation.
Contact an Employment Law Attorney
If you suspect you have been the victim of or witness to sexual harassment in the workplace, you should contact an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer to answer any questions you may have. A sexual harassment lawyer can help you file the required paperwork for your complaints to the right departments and ensure that they are registered within the statute of limitations so you do not lose your rights.
Contact the attorneys at Castronovo & McKinney today to answer all of your questions about sexual harassment in the workplace. Don’t wait until it is too late.