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What You Need to Know About Sexual Harassment Protections in New Jersey

By Thomas McKinney

Employees in New Jersey need to be aware of their rights in the workplace. One central right is the right to be in a work environment free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can involve physical or verbal harassment. Verbal harassment may take the form of demeaning comments or inappropriate language spoken in person or on the phone or written down in notes, messages, emails, and more. Physical harassment can include unwanted touching. While it is important for employees to be aware of the sexual harassment protections available in New Jersey, it is also important for employers to be aware that they have a duty to provide such a safe work environment for their employees. Here is what you need to know about sexual harassment protections in New Jersey.

What You Need to Know About Sexual Harassment Protections in New Jersey

There are two types of workplace sexual harassment that run afoul of the law at both the state and federal level. First, quid pro quo sexual harassment is when an employment benefit is conditioned on sexual favors or an adverse employment action is the result of a refusal to comply with a sexual favor. The other type of workplace sexual harassment is when harassing conduct rises to the level of creating a hostile work environment. When an employee experiences severe or pervasive harassing conduct, the workplace can become hostile, as well as offensive and intimidating.

New Jersey has specific state-level protections against sexual harassment in the workplace. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits sexual harassment in employment and considers it to be a form of gender-based discrimination. This prohibition and protection applies to employers regardless of their size and industry. Such a protection against sexual harassment also exists, somewhat differently, at the federal level. Federal law also protects employees from sexual harassment in the workplace, but this protection only applies to those employers with fifteen or more employees. Furthermore, these federal protections do not protect independent contractors from sexual harassment. Federal law only protects workers legally classified as employees. The LAD provides sexual harassment protections to independent contractors as well as those legally classified as employees.

The LAD not only protects employees from sexual harassment in the workplace, but it also provides protections from retaliation. The LAD prohibits an employee from taking adverse action against you should you object to sexual harassment. It also protects you from retaliatory action taken by your employer because you file a sexual harassment complaint or make an attempt to otherwise exercise your legal rights. Not only is an employer prohibited from taking such retaliatory action, but an employer has an affirmative duty to take action against sexual harassment in the workplace if they know about it or should have known about it.

Employment Law Attorneys

Have you suffered sexual harassment in the workplace? The dedicated team at Castronovo & McKinney is here to help you enforce your legal rights and pursue those legal remedies available to you. Contact us today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.