Articles Posted in Sexual Harassment

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Like many personal relationships, the best attorney-clients relationships are based on trust and communication. If you’re not being honest with your attorney or not communicating with your attorney, it could lead to problems that will harm your case. That’s why it is important to recognize that your employment discrimination or harassment case requires, not just a skilled New Jersey employment attorney, but the right attorney with whom you can forge a strong relationship in order to get the best outcome for you.

A recent case from Union County is an unfortunate example. L.A., the employee, was a worker at a health insurance entity’s office. In 2017, she sued her employer for discrimination and sexual harassment. Attorneys for the employer and employee discussed possibly settling the case in late 2018, with employer initially offering $25,000. L.A.’s position started at $95,000 but she eventually lowered that to $90,000.

L.A. and her legal team communicated on Oct. 31. As the employer increased its offers, L.A.’s legal team reached out on Nov.2, Nov. 3, Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, with each message expressing an increasing degree of urgency that the client contact the law office immediately. L.A. didn’t respond to any of those November messages, and that created a problem, as the judge was on the verge of entering a ruling.

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For too many workers, their workplace is not a safe place. For some, that means something like being a construction worker at a dangerous site where safety rules and regulations are routinely flouted. For others, it means something very different, but potentially as dangerous. These workers, most of whom are women but many of whom are men, face a job site where they face daily threat of harm – be it psychological, physical or both – as a result of sexual harassment from a supervisor. When your employer fails to take action to protect you, you may eventually reach a breaking point where protecting your safety means resigning. Do not be misled into thinking that, just because you resigned, you cannot win a sexual harassment case under the Law Against Discrimination. Don’t give up, but instead do reach out to an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment attorney about your legal options.

S.W. was one of those workers who resigned and later sued. She worked as a marketing manager for an auto club in Wayne. Very soon after she began her job, the sexual harassment allegedly started. D.H., one of the club’s vice presidents, engaged in many forms of harassment, according to the lawsuit.

First, it was urging S.W. to “check out” the breasts of other women who had a “nice rack.” Then there allegedly was the time that the vice president showed her a hand-drawn image, which was supposed to be a membership goal thermometer, but was actually aroused male genitalia. After that, according to S.W., was the time that she was sitting on a folding table to conduct a meeting and the man (who by then was the president) made fun of S.W.’s sitting position, asking her if it was “an invite” as he made a pelvic thrusting motion. Allegedly, the harassment escalated to unwanted touching when the president “felt up her leg.”

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If you’ve been harmed as a result of workplace discrimination or sexual harassment, you’re probably looking for something that you consider to be “justice.” Sometimes, that justice is a money award or settlement, to make up for all the lost earnings and other financial harm you’ve suffered. Sometimes, it is a large money award or settlement to create positive change by discouraging your employer and others from engaging in similar wrongful conduct in the future. Still other times, it is about creating positive change through other means beyond just a money payment. Whatever form of justice you’re seeking as a result of your workplace discrimination or sexual harassment, the right New Jersey employment attorney can help get you there.

K.B., who was a staff member on Gov. Murphy’s 2017 campaign, was a woman who allegedly suffered a most egregious form of workplace sexual harassment. In April 2017, the head of the Murphy campaign’s Muslim and Latino outreach allegedly sexually assaulted K.B. in her apartment, nj.com reported. According to K.B.’s lawsuit, this happened after a different female staffer had submitted no fewer than three complaints about “a toxic work environment and workplace violence” within the campaign. K.B. subsequently sued the Muslim/Latino outreach director, the Murphy campaign, and the state for several violations, including violations of the Law Against Discrimination.

The campaign staffer’s lawsuit is a reminder of several important aspects of New Jersey anti-discrimination and harassment law. First, K.B.’s case is a reminder that, regardless of whether she had been a paid staffer or an unpaid volunteer, she had a right to seek a civil court award. Although the Law Against Discrimination does not make a specific statement including unpaid interns and volunteers within the law’s protections, the Director of the Division on Civil Rights has stated that both paid employees and volunteer workers are protected against discrimination and sexual harassment by the law.

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As a worker in New Jersey, you are entitled to expect that you can come to work and do your work in an environment free of sexual harassment. You are also entitled to expect that your employer will take the appropriate actions to protect you from all risks of sexual harassment about which it knows or should know, even if those risks come from people who are not employees of your employer. If you are harmed by sexual harassment that your employer couldn’t possibly anticipate, your employer still has an obligation to take all the remedial steps necessary to ensure that you’re protected going forward. If those things don’t happen, then your employer may be in violation of the Law Against Discrimination and you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact a knowledgeable New Jersey sexual harassment attorney to learn more.

A recent jury verdict from Essex County is a reminder of several of those above truths. The worker, D.S., was a 41-year-old woman who worked as a wealth manager at the Glen Ridge branch of a major bank. The harasser in this case was a customer in his 70s. The customer allegedly followed D.S. from the branch to her car one day, verbally harassing her. The harassment ultimately became physical, with the customer grinding his groin into the woman’s backside, according to NBC News.

The state charged the customer with sexual assault. According to D.S.’s complaint, the bank did nothing, despite the fact that the customer was already notorious for harassing female employees at the branch, especially women of color like D.S. The man’s past conduct had included, among other acts, at least one instance where he placed his head on a female mortgage rep’s breasts as he hugged her, Fox Business reported. That failure to act, according to the jury who heard the wealth manager’s case, was enough to establish that the bank had violated the Law Against Discrimination.

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Discrimination law in New Jersey has undergone important changes in recent years, and potentially may be undergoing more. The changes reflect the clear awareness that there’s still more to do in order to stamp out the ills of discrimination and harassment in workplaces in this state. As the laws continue to evolve, the opportunities you have to obtain the compensation you need and deserve for the harm you suffered on the job may be increasing. If you’ve been hurt by workplace discrimination or harassment, make sure you reach out to an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney without delay.

Earlier this year, Governor Phil Murphy announced a proposal that would make numerous beneficial changes to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Before that, though, New Jersey’s state government had already taken some important steps to stamp out certain discrimination, including the discrimination inflicted through the wage gap.

The state passed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act in 2018. This March, the Division on Civil Rights published a guidance document to help employees and employers understand what the Equal Pay Act does for workers. One very important thing to know about the law is that it applies to more than just the gender wage gap.

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Governor Phil Murphy recently proposed what would amount to a massive reform of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD.) The overhaul, if enacted in its entirety, would make it easier for New Jersey workers who are the victims of discrimination or harassment to file and pursue their cases successfully. The governor’s proposal is an important reminder that the laws in New Jersey are often changing and, sometimes, those changes are major… and massively beneficial to you. Be sure to consult a knowledgeable New Jersey employment discrimination attorney about your situation to get the up-to-date advice you need.

The proposed revamp of the LAD comes in the aftermath of a one-year-long study of discrimination and harassment at New Jersey workplaces, which was conducted by the Division on Civil Rights (DCR.) The director of the DCR, after completing the survey, stated that sexual harassment remained “pervasive. Even as women make up nearly half of the work force, sexual harassment persists in every sector of the workforce.”

Toward ending that pervasiveness, the reform proposed by the governor would extend the statute of limitations for filing a LAD claim from two years to three years. The proposal would also give harmed workers an extra six months to file an administrative complaint with the DCR, which is a mandatory first step before you can sue in court.

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Once you’ve made the major decision to file a sexual harassment suit in court, there will still be several more decisions you’ll have to make going forward. Each of these decisions are the kinds of things where the advice and counsel of an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment attorney can be invaluable.

For example, at one or more points, you’ll probably have to decide whether you want to settle your case or take it all the way to a judgment. For some people, hearing a judge or jury state that you were harassed and that your employer violated the law may be an essential goal, meaning that a judgment may be more valuable than a settlement where the employer doesn’t acknowledge its culpability. For many people, though, receiving a settlement award that sufficiently compensates them for the harm they’ve suffered may be enough to warrant letting go of their case, as it allows them to get the financial compensation they need, allows them to obtain closure on a frustrating and painful chapter, and also allows them to avoid the time and stress of additional litigation.

S.C. was one of those workers in the latter category. According to a nj.com report, she worked for at one of New Jersey’s developmental centers for men and women with developmental disabilities, providing services to the center’s residents. In December 2016, S.C. received a new assignment to a different cottage within the center.

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It’s that time of year again. The holidays are again upon us. Along with gifts, food and family get-togethers, many people’s holidays in New Jersey also include holiday parties put on by their employers. For a lot of folks, these events are fun, or at least professionally productive. For too many people, though, these events are fraught with navigating offensive conduct… or worse.

Regardless of who has engaged in the offensive conduct – be it a co-worker or a supervisor – part of the legal blame may lie with the employer, making the employer liable under state or federal law for discrimination or sexual harassment. Check with an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment attorney about the specifics of your situation to find what legal options may best help you.

The headlines across 2019 have revealed that, even after the emergence of #MeToo and other forms of heightened awareness regarding sexual harassment, misconduct at holiday parties is still an issue. Tinder is a dating app that, according to some observers, offered users the option to pursue sex without a relationship. According to one former marketing executive at the company, the company’s former CEO appeared to think that the company’s holiday party offered him the opportunity to pursue sexual activity without consent. The former VP’s lawsuit, filed this past summer, alleged that the man, who was still CEO at the time of the party, made sexually graphic comments to her, then later followed her to her hotel room, where he forcibly groped her breasts and kissed her, according to a Yahoo! report.

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Anyone that’s every worked in an office environment knows that there are certain awkward interpersonal interactions that one must navigate in order to succeed in the workplace. There are things that you’d rather avoid, but sometimes you don’t, just so you can be sure you’re seen as a good “team player.” For one Atlantic County school system employee, though, her effort to be a “team player” eventually turned for the worse and allegedly made her workplace a hostile environment.

That alleged hostile work environment eventually landed the employee, according to a nj.com report, a $185,000 settlement. If you think you were the victim of a hostile environment at work, you should contact an experienced New Jersey hostile work environment attorney about your case.

According to the employee’s complaint, problems started after a new business administrator, P.Y., came on board at the school district and expressed to P.B., who was a secretary for the district, that he was physically attracted to one of P.B.’s friends. P.Y. alleged asked P.B. to facilitate a meeting with the friend, who was also a secretary working for the district, imploring P.B. to “hook a brother up.” P.B. asked the administrator to stop, but he didn’t.

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Non-disclosure obligations in cases involving sexual harassment have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months and years, and deservedly so. Some non-disclosure rules can potentially aid survivors by shielding their privacy. However, if written too broadly, these rules run the risk of harming, not helping, survivors of harassment. For example, under the current rules, if you’re a New Jersey state employee, you risk losing your job if you discuss a sexual harassment complaint – even if you were the victim. The state recently announced that it had re-drafted the rule in the hopes of avoiding creating a “chilling effect” on victims’ reporting their harassment, nj.com reported.

Whether you are a government employee or work in the private sector, if you’ve been sexually harassed at work, you may have various options to receive the compensation you deserve for the harm you suffered. Contact an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment attorney to find out more.

As an example of how the state employee rule, prior to its re-drafting, could hurt victims of sexual harassment consider the case of V.U., as reported by nj.com. V.U. was a woman who worked as a procurement specialist for the state’s Department of Treasury for two years, from 2014-16. According to the specialist, her supervisor subjected her to “pervasive sexual harassment,” including stalking, unwelcome physical contact and sexual propositions.

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