Castronovo & McKinney is a top New Jersey Employment Law firm, specializing in sexual harassment litigation. We represent plaintiffs who have been sexually harassed or intimidated in the workplace. It is our goal to seek justice and restitution for our clients that enables them to pursue professional fulfillment and financial security without fear.
If you feel that you may have been sexually harassed in the workplace, contact our employment attorneys today for a free consultation of your case. Whether you suffered intimidation, threats, inappropriate touching or commentary, or were given reciprocal ultimatums, we can help.
What is Sexual Harassment?
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits all types of unwelcome advances, demeaning acts or commentary, threats or abuse of a sexual nature based on a person’s gender, in the workplace. This law pertains to any company with 15 or more employees and protects against sexual discrimination or persistent harassment.
Sexual harassment could take the form of unwanted advances, verbal commentary, physical conduct, or outright requests for sexual favors. When these advances, comments or requests negatively affect a person’s work performance or employment, they are considered harassment and are illegal. Additionally, if any repetitive commentary, even in the form of joking, creates an atmosphere of discomfort or intimidation, that also constitutes sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can be attributed to anyone of any gender, size, race or creed toward anyone else of any gender, size, race or creed. Harassers and victims can be of the same sex and someone smaller can be charged with harassing someone larger.
The harasser can be someone in a position of power, a same-level co-worker, an underling, or even a customer or client. The victim does not have to be the person who was directly harassed; it could be someone who overheard and was offended by commentary directed at someone else.
Types of Sexual Harassment
There are many different types of sexual harassment, but all are considered illegal and can end in litigation. No matter which type of sexual harassment you have endured, your rights are protected.
Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment
Unwanted advances or repetitive comments can make the workplace feel sexually charged or aggressive. This uncomfortable feeling and dread of going to work is what is known as a hostile work environment. Whether comments are delivered in a joking manner, or even if they are not directly addressed to you, if they make you feel objectified, demeaned, or threatened, they are considered part of a hostile work environment sexual harassment claim.
Sometimes this kind of behavior can come in the form of compliments, such as praising a worker’s physical attributes or sex appeal. Other times, commentary can be delivered as insults toward appearance or physical or emotional weakness. Even broad generalizations about a gender as a whole can be construed as sexual harassment.
The bottom line is that any combination of commentary, inappropriate touching or other advances that makes a person feel uncomfortable, threatened, objectified, or otherwise victimized is not permitted under the LAD with regard to sexual harassment.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment differs from Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment in that distinct promotions are offered in exchange for sexual favors or attention, while punishments or restrictions may be threatened for failure to comply.
This type of harassment causes a worker to believe that if he or she does not submit to sexual request or advance, he or she may suffer loss of work or other negative impacts in the workplace. Loss of coveted shifts, lessened hours, demotion or other punishments are perceived to be the result of refusing such advances or requests.
Likewise, a worker may believe that he or she cannot be considered for positive rewards unless they partake in sexual conduct with their harasser. Promotions, raises and other perks are sometimes used to entice a worker to partake in sexual favors. Either positive or negative impacts in exchange for sexual complicity in the work place are considered quid pro quo sexual harassment.
It is important to note that a harasser can claim that no punishment or reward was intended, but if the victim even perceives it to be understood, it is still considered quid pro quo harassment.
How to Handle Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Simple one-time comments or insults are not typically enough for a sexual harassment claim. In order to make a case stronger, it is helpful to document repetitive comments and behaviors. Also, it helps to address your harasser directly regarding the comments or advances to make it clear that the attention is unwanted.
By addressing the comments and behaviors, you establish a clearly-defined expectation for behavior, as well as a record of you attempting to resolve the issue on your own before seeking litigation. Your mention of the offending behaviors or comments does not have to be confrontational. It can be a simple statement that the comments made you feel uncomfortable and you would appreciate it if he or she would stop. Using company email is a good idea to protect yourself with an official copy of your request in writing with a date in case you need it to strengthen your case.
Contact Castronovo & McKinney for any Sexual Harassment Claims
The statute of limitations on sexual harassment claims is two years, so time is of the essence. Do not wait to contact our employment attorneys for a free consultation of your case. Don’t let the actions of another limit your potential in the workplace. Call us today to protect your right to work, free from harassment.