Everyone has the right to work in a safe environment where they are protected from harassment and unwelcome sexual advances. However, even though sexual harassment is prohibited under New Jersey law, the NJ Employment Lawyers team is aware that it still happens in all too many workplaces.
Have you need sexually harassed or intimidated in your workplace? Contact our skilled Hackensack, New Jersey attorneys today.
Protecting Your Rights in a Hostile Work Environment
For employers, sexual harassment cases can cost tens or hundreds of thousands in legal fees, damages, and loss of reputation. For employees, being sexually harassed can impact their career success and trigger anxiety, depression, or PTSD. With all the problems sexual harassment causes in the workplace, why do some employers still allow a hostile environment to develop?
One reason is that employers may not know the behavior is going on because the victims are too intimidated to speak up. Another is that what some people may think of as simply “off-color humor” is actually harassing behavior that is against the law.
Understanding what sexual harassment is and your options for stopping it can help you to find your voice, stand up for your rights, and hold abusers accountable. The sexual harassment attorneys at NY Employment Lawyers can help you achieve those goals.
What is considered sexual harassment in Hackensack, New Jersey?
Unwelcome sexual comments, advances, and explicit requests for sexual favors are considered sexual harassment, as is physical contact — or the touching of your body in an intimate manner or with the intention to arouse. In some cases, such physical contact can also be considered sexual abuse, which is a felony in New Jersey.
A common conception of sexual harassment is a male boss asking a female subordinate for sexual favors in return for a promotion or under threat of being fired. However, the truth is that sexual harassment can happen to anyone — male or female, gay or straight, of any sexual identity — and can occur in coworker relationships just as easily as in boss-subordinate relationships.
“Quid Pro Quo” Sexual Harassment
The term quid pro quo refers to an exchange of favors. When it is used in the context of workplace sexual harassment, it means that one party requests or demands sexual favors in return for preferential treatment, such as:
- A promotion
- Better sales territory
- A lateral move
- More workplace perks, like work-from-home or a bigger expense account
- Assignments to the most desirable projects
- A raise or bonus
Quid pro quo sexual harassment naturally ties to a power imbalance. One person has the authority or decision-making responsibility to grant the work favors, while the subordinate is asked to perform sexual acts in return for them.
A threat of being demoted or fired can also be considered a quid pro quo sexual harassment case because the benefit for the employee is keeping their position.
Sexual Harassment That Creates a Hostile Work Environment
Creating a hostile work environment through sexual harassment is not transactional like a quid pro quo situation, but it can be just as damaging to the victim. In these cases, the victim(s) is subjected to unwelcome discrimination, comments, or jokes that are sexual in nature or are tied to their sexual preferences or gender.
For a sexual harassment or hostile workplace case to succeed, your NJ employment lawyer must demonstrate that the sexual conduct was pervasive and that it irreparably altered the conditions of the victim’s employment. This helps prove that the harassment rendered the victim unable to continue working in that situation.
Some common behaviors considered sexually harassing or that help foster a hostile work environment include:
- Making sexist remarks or generalizations about one gender, sexual orientation or sexual identify
- Making sexual remarks about a person’s appearance
- Telling dirty jokes or using sex as a form of humor (both verbal and gestural)
- Sharing or viewing pornographic images on personal or professional accounts
- Asking someone out on a date and not taking no for an answer
In short, any type of sexual conversation, advance, or behavior that makes someone uncomfortable at work could be considered harassing behavior. When the company fails to stop the harassment, it can be held liable for allowing a hostile work environment to grow.
Seeking Damages in a Sexual Harassment Claim
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. If you have been a victim of harassment or sexual assault, contact a Hackensack employment lawyer to explore your legal options.
You do not have to simply accept your fate when your complaints to your company’s Human Resources department or your own supervisor fail to stop the behavior or if you suffer financially because you refused to comply with quid pro quo harassment. You may be able to file a lawsuit for damages against the company and the people who harassed or assaulted you.
You could even be awarded a financial settlement that covers your actual economic losses. This could help you obtain compensation for your loss of earning potential, lost wages, emotional trauma, or other non-economic damages.
Schedule an Appointment with an Experienced Sexual Harassment Attorney in Hackensack
If you were sexually harassed in your Hackensack workplace, either as the result of a hostile work environment or quid pro quo harassment, contact NJ Employment Lawyers, LLC today for a free consultation with a skilled sexual harassment lawyer.