Sexual harassment, regardless of where it occurs, is unlawful and can result in serious legal consequences.
You expect to be in a safe environment when you go to work. When colleagues, customers, or management engage in any sexual harassment against you, you have the legal right to file a formal complaint.
Most employers in New Jersey have their own sexual harassment policies and procedures. How you’ll report instances of sexual harassment largely depends on your employer, the type of harassment you received, and the person who harassed you.
Anonymity and Sexual Harassment Claims
The issue of anonymity in a sexual harassment complaint can be complicated. Any allegation is a serious matter and must be investigated thoroughly.
In some cases, accusers may want to remain anonymous because they fear retaliation or simply because these matters can be very personal. In any case, although parties involved in a sexual harassment claim may want to remain anonymous, complete privacy can never be guaranteed in New Jersey.
Investigations may seek to interview witnesses and third parties, and when this occurs, knowledge of the sexual harassment claim can become known to outside parties.
Though most employers and agencies will attempt to maintain confidentiality, every sexual harassment case will present unique challenges, and anonymity may be difficult to maintain.
What protections do I have against sexual harassment in the workplace?
Across the United States, most employees share sexual harassment protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Under Title VII, sexual harassment within the workplace is illegal, and anyone who suffers sexual harassment has the legal right to file a lawsuit.
When an employer has less than 15 employees, Title VII does not go into effect against sexual harassment claims. Instead, state authorities will generally deal with sexual harassment claims when they take place in smaller companies.
In New Jersey, workers can file sexual harassment complaints with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or both.
Filing a Complaint with Your Employer
Generally, your employer’s human resources department will be the first place you’ll go when you report sexual harassment.
Though you may want to remain anonymous, in most instances, you must identify yourself and your harasser to the appropriate authorities. Fortunately, the law protects you from retaliation.
Suppose your employer has no procedure to deal with complaints or does nothing to address the sexual harassment. In that case, you’ll have to file an administrative charge with the corresponding authorities.
Administrative Charges Against Sexual Harassment
You can file an administrative charge when an employer fails to practice due diligence and investigate a sexual harassment claim.
The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and the U.S. EEOC are the two offices where you can file your complaint.
These administrative bodies will review your claim and help you resolve the matter.
Are federal complaints kept confidential?
The U.S EEOC enforces most federal discrimination laws. If you choose to proceed with a federal complaint, you must do so within 300 days of when the incident occurred.
Although the EEOC keeps all information confidential, in order for them to investigate allegations, your name will be disclosed to your employer, as well as a summary of the sexual harassment you suffered.
In rare cases, you can have a third party file a complaint on your behalf. However, it will be difficult to remain anonymous if an investigation is carried out, as the claim must be thoroughly examined.
Turn to New Jersey Employment Law Attorneys
Federal and state laws prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. Contact NJ Employment Lawyers today if you’ve encountered sexual harassment while on the job in New Jersey. Our employment attorneys can help.