Individuals have legal options against sexual and workplace harassment, especially after following protocol and complaining with the supervisor and recognizing the workplace policies.
A harasser may try to use defenses in a case when an employee unreasonably failed to make use of the employer’s anti-harassment policy. A recent New Jersey Appellate Division opinion highlights the fact that this defense does not apply if the harassment led to an adverse employment action, such as the employee being fired, demoted, or suspended without pay. A former Piscataway firefighter filed suit in state Superior Court saying that she was sexually harassed, then wrongfully terminated. She was the only woman assigned to the New Jersey fire company and it was general knowledge that she was gay. The suit claims that after a promotion in 2016 through 2019, a male co-worker sexually harassed the victim almost daily through physical and visible actions. The fire company has anti-harassment policies, but nothing was done to curb the negative behavior, and the victim was terminated for the alleged unauthorized use of the station’s tax ID number for purchases that she claims were for the station. Legal counsel can assist this victim against sexual harassment and workplace harassment.
Workplace harassment is a form of employment discrimination and a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the American Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Sexual discrimination is when individuals are discriminated against for being male, or female, sexual orientation, and for being pregnant, with regard to work environment, gaining promotions, salary gaps and reductions in benefits based on a variety of factors. The discriminators in these cases are usually managers, bosses, and supervisors in places of employment, although sometimes co-workers discriminate as well. Experienced sexual harassment and employment law attorneys in New Jersey can explain available legal options for victims of workplace harassment.
Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent (as in this case), or severe that it creates a hostile, or offensive work environment, or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as a victim being fired, transferred, or demoted. The co-worker’s actions should have been handled by enforcing the existing policy at the station. A lawyer may be able to build a case using this information.
- Back pay, lost pay and benefits individuals would receive absent the adverse personnel action (e.g., salary from the date of a termination, or demotion until the date of the trial),
- Compensatory damages for emotional distress and reputational harms suffered because of the sexual harassment,
- Punitive damages to punish the company if it acted with malice, or reckless indifference,
- Lost future earnings,
- Equitable relief, such as an order reinstating victim,
- Attorney’s fee and court costs.
Individuals have legal options against sexual and workplace harassment, especially after following protocol and complaining with the supervisor and recognizing the workplace policies. An attorney can assist victims of harassment with civil, or criminal action to compensate for damages, and even personal injury that may have been a result of the sexual, or workplace harassment.