Without question, progress has been made when it comes to eradicating discrimination and harassment in New Jersey workplaces. Sometimes, though, a case comes along and reminds us all that harassment is far from eliminated… and that serious dangers still exist in some New Jersey workplaces. If you endured harassment on the job, don’t ever be fooled into thinking that it is something you just have to accept and “put up with.” Instead, reach out to an experienced New Jersey employment attorney who can provide you with options to help you protect yourself (and perhaps others in your workplace, too.)
When it comes to reminding everyone that workplace harassment is still a serious problem in this state, a story from a police department in Union County undeniably does just that. As reported by the New York Post and mycentraljersey.com, the work environment at this particular police department was one where calling it “hostile” might be an understatement.
The central harasser, according to the complaint, was an internal affairs officer who frequently wielded an extremely large sex toy at the workplace. Allegedly, the sex toy’s appearance was not just an occasional thing, as one officer was “tortured” with the device “on an almost daily basis.”
The internal affairs officer allegedly was not alone in the misconduct. According to the complaint, on one occasion when the internal affairs officer hit a dispatcher in the face with the sex toy, another officer filmed the harassment and also peppered the dispatcher with questions and comments related to the nature of the device’s odor, the Post reported. The officer also “had a practice of taking his flashlight and ramming it into the [posterior region] of other male officers while at police headquarters [when] those officers had their backs to” him, according to mycentraljersey.com.
Allegedly, this sort of gross misconduct went on for years. Indeed, according to the complaint, the sex toy was a fixture around the workplace for more than a decade.
The small bit of good news was that the legal system was there to help the harassed employees recover compensation. The harassment victims sued and ultimately reached a settlement of $2.45 million.
Common excuses harassed employees hear, and why not to fall for them
This case is a sharp reminder that these things do still happen, that they’re not isolated incidents and that, many times, the workplace is rife with harassment. If you’re harmed by harassment at work, you’ll probably hear the excuses. “He doesn’t mean anything by it”… “You’re taking it the wrong way”… “It’s just a joke”… “That’s just the way things are around here”… “You should just play along with it if you want to get ahead here.”
Don’t fall for any of these lines. No one should have to endure what these police employees did. Whether or not the harassment was just the harasser’s (twisted) idea of a joke and was devoid of intentional malice is irrelevant. Whether or not such harassment had long been a part of that workplace’s culture is irrelevant.
What is relevant under New Jersey law, is only this: was the conduct sufficiently severe or pervasive enough to constitute a hostile work environment, and did that hostile work environment harm you? If the answers to those are yes, none of the other things matter.
If it’s happened to you, take action. Reach out to the diligent and determined sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys offer many years of experience in successfully representing workers harmed by workplace harassment. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation to discuss how we can the power of this office to work for you.