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New Jersey Appellate Division Upholds $525K Verdict for a Customer Service Representative Who Was Sexually Harassed by Her Supervisor

The successes of other employees in sexual harassment litigation can serve many positive purposes. For one thing, they can serve as encouragement that hopefully will embolden others to come forward and stop suffering from harassment in silence. For another thing, the rulings that the courts make can provide valuable knowledge for those who come afterward. As an example, one recent case from Newark reminds New Jersey workers that you do not need proof that you suffered some extreme or debilitating emotional injury in order to succeed in establishing that you suffered from severe or pervasive harassment. The focal point is the harasser’s actions, rather than how they affected you. For the knowledge you need for your case, retain the services of a skilled New Jersey sexual harassment attorney to represent you.The case involved M.V., a customer service representative. M.V.’s case of sexual harassment is, unfortunately, an all-too-common set of facts. M.V. started her job in 2008 at the Newark office of a national producer of corrugated boxes. Not long after M.V. started work, her supervisor began sexually harassing her.

The harassment M.V. received was similar to the sorts of things too many employees have to endure. First came the supervisor’s comments about his sexual relationship with his girlfriend, with whom he’d recently split. Then came the supervisor’s comments about how he loved Latina women (like M.V.), how the ex-girlfriend thought he had “nice thighs,” how the girlfriend wanted him to have a threesome, and so forth. He also asked M.V. out to eat and placed his hand over her hand in an unwanted way. In addition, the supervisor stared at M.V.’s body inappropriately and often demanded that M.V. not speak to other men at the workplace.

In 2011, the employer fired M.V. Eleven months later, M.V. filed a sexual harassment lawsuit under the Law Against Discrimination. At the end of the trial, the jury ruled in favor of the employee, awarding her $300,000 for economic loss and $225,000 for emotional distress. The employee also received an award of $402,000 in attorneys’ fees and $20,000 in costs.

The employer appealed the verdict and award but lost. The appeals court’s decision made some very important points for anyone who has suffered from workplace sexual harassment and is considering taking legal action. The court explained that the facts in M.V.’s case demonstrated that a series of incidents can, when taken together as a group, be enough to meet the “severe or pervasive” harassment standard that the law requires, even if the individual incidents would not, taken separately, be enough to constitute severe or pervasive harassment.

Additionally, the court opinion highlighted the fact that, when it comes to assessing whether or not conduct is impermissible sexual harassment, the key is the harasser’s actions, rather than the impact on the victim. New Jersey law does not require that sexual harassment inflict “serious psychological harm” on the victim in order to meet the severe or pervasive standard. You don’t have to prove that you left work crying every day. You don’t have to have proof that you missed work, began seeing a specialist, or started taking psychological medication because of the harassment. The focus is on the harasser’s wrongful conduct.

If you have suffered from sexual harassment at work, you have options. Talk to the knowledgeable New Jersey sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys have spent many hours working to help our clients pursue the fair outcomes they deserve. Reach us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can help you.

More blog posts:

Successfully Pursuing a Sexual Harassment Case Against Your Employer, Even if You Didn’t Report the Harassment to Your Employer, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, July 13, 2018

How the Hostile Environment at Your Workplace May Entitle You to Compensation in a Sexual Harassment Case in New Jersey, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, March 28, 2018

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