If you are subjected to a hostile work environment that makes you feel humiliated or intimidated, this is a type of harassment. It is illegal in New Jersey if the treatment you are receiving arises in the context of discrimination based on one or more legally protected categories, such as race or gender.
Know Your Rights
Many employees feel that they have a right to legal recourse for any perceived unfair treatment, which is not always the case. To qualify as illegal workplace harassment, there are specific conditions that must be met. Castronovo & McKinney’s experienced employment law attorneys can help you determine if the treatment you are receiving constitutes a hostile work environment.
Federal and state law protects you from harassment in the workplace. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination identifies the following protected classes: race, color, creed, nationality, national origin, ancestry, marital status, age, civil union status or domestic partnership, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, among many others. If individuals at your work treat you in a discriminatory fashion based on any of these categories, it is illegal. For example, if your employer is abusive and disparaging to you because you are pregnant, and it is clear that the motivation for this harassment is due to your pregnancy. An example such as this would constitute a hostile work environment.
To take legal action, your situation must be severe or pervasive. This means the acts that create the hostile environment must be either very severe or if they are minor, then they must occur frequently. To be considered a hostile work environment, the treatment you’re receiving and the environment you are forced to work in must be so bad that the terms and conditions of your job have been altered by it. Additionally, a reasonable person in your situation would be expected to find the environment hostile and abusive as well. These acts may be committed by your boss, supervisor or even co-workers.
Examples of a hostile work environment include a series of the following inappropriate events or misconduct: repeated offensive or discriminatory comments and language, taunting, exposure to pornography, unwelcome touching, and religious proselytizing. If you complain to your employer about harassment, he has a legal obligation to investigate and take necessary action to stop the harassment. Failure to do so may result in payment of restitution.
Am I Entitled to a Claim?
If you are a victim of hostile work environment harassment in New Jersey, your employer is legally responsible for damages. You may seek legal remedies that include recovery of money for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. Castronovo & McKinney will investigate your situation to determine if you have a valid claim and if you can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If so, our skilled employment law attorneys will work with you to collect the evidence necessary to demonstrate the harassment you are experiencing and pursue compensation.