Articles Posted in Sexual Harassment

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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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It takes a lot to succeed in a New Jersey discrimination lawsuit. You need proof you were a member of protected class (race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, etc.), evidence that you suffered harm at work (termination, demotion, change of job duties, reduction in hours, reduction in pay, etc.) based on that membership and proof that any legitimate reason the employer gave for its action was really just a pretext for discrimination.

But you can have all that and still lose. In fact, you can have all that and never even get your day in court. How? Procedural errors, which can include things like filing too late, after the deadline has passed. Make a mistake like this and your case may be dismissed without any of your factual evidence ever getting before a court. This is one reason among countless ones why it pays to have an experienced and diligent New Jersey discrimination attorney on your side.

The limitations period for filing a discrimination lawsuit in New Jersey is two years. There are many reasons why you may need to wait to file until very near the deadline. When you’ve filed close to the deadline, your skilled counsel can help you overcome arguments by the defense that your filing was tardy when it was actually on time.

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If your supervisor at work demands that you give him sexual favors or else lose your job, and you report that harassment to your employer and your employer does nothing to the offender, then you may know that you can go to court against both your employer and the supervisor. But, what if the harasser is someone who isn’t employed by your employer? Does that difference mean that you have no case? The answer is no, it does not mean that. Depending on the facts of your case, you may still have options. One option to which you definitely should avail yourself is reaching out to an experienced New Jersey employment attorney about your situation.

A recent federal case from neighboring Pennsylvania (Hewitt v. BS Transportation of Illinois, Civ. No. 18-712) tackled this issue of harassment by non-employees. C.H., the allegedly victimized employee, worked as a freight driver for a transportation company. The alleged problems started in 2014, beginning with sexual advances by an employee of a client. Allegedly, the harassment included both sexual comments and gestures and eventually escalated to becoming physical, with the harasser grabbing the driver “by the buttocks with one hand and shoving” him against a freight car.

According to the driver’s lawsuit, he reported the assault. Allegedly, C.H.’s own supervisor told that the matter would be handled, but no action was ever taken against the harasser.

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If you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment or discrimination at work, you may be entitled to sue and receive compensation for the damages that you suffered. That you may have already known. You also have the right to settle your action out of court, in which you receive a payment from the other side in exchange for your dismissing your case. This, too, you may have already known. What you may not have known, however, is that New Jersey in on the cusp of changing the way that settlements in these situations are drawn up. Specifically, the state is close to enacting a law that would make any provisions in such agreements that require the harassed or discriminated employee to remain silent to be unenforceable.

As nj.com has reported in early February, the bill that would erect such a rule has passed both houses and needs only Governor Murphy’s signature. Back in 2017, the legislative body proposed similar legislation banning so-called “gag” or non-disclosure provisions in cases involving sexual harassment and discrimination. That bill did not become law.

The state senate tried again in 2018, proposing Senate Bill 121. Senate Bill 121’s enactment into law would mean that New Jersey workers would have one of the broadest umbrellas of protection against these sorts of non-disclosure agreements, protecting all workers asserting any kind of claim of discrimination, harassment or retaliation under the Law Against Discrimination.

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