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Monday, July 8, 2024

NJ Employment Attorney, Harassment Discrimination at Work

What comes as a surprise to many, is that harassment in the workplace is not covered under discrimination law except when the harassment is because you are a member of a legally protected class. In New Jersey, a supervisor’s hostility, nagging/harassing behavior or rudeness toward you generally is not illegal unless it results from your being a whistleblower or because you are a member of a protected class. In NJ, under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A.§ 10:5-4, discrimination and harassment in employment is illegal if it is based on any of the following protected classes: race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, familial status, disability, liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, nationality, sex, gender identity or expression. Note: Pregnancy discrimination is a part of sex and/or disability discrimination and another section in the statute, N.J.S.A § 10:5-3.1, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women and those who suffer medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth.

In many instances of discrimination, if you quit your job, you may lose right to prevail in a lawsuit unless you first take certain legally required measures to preserve your job while you are still employed. If you are thinking of handing in a resignation letter, or think you will be fired, or have been terminated, you should contact this office immediately for a free consultation to discuss your options.

A Co-Employee’s Harassment

In addition to a supervisor’s harassment, a co-employee’s harassment of you because you are a member of a protected class is sometimes also actionable provided the employer had knowledge of the harassment and did nothing to abate it. Do not assume that the employer has knowledge of it. Additionally, do not assume the employer will later admit to having knowledge of the harassment, even when a supervisor witnessed the harassing behavior because of your protected characteristic, i.e., you are gay, a female, a member of a racial minority, disabled, etc.

If you are experiencing such behavior from a co-employee or supervisor, you should maintain a personal log (at home, not kept on the company computer) with the date, the circumstances, the names of the persons present, and what words were spoken, etc. If you decide to later litigate the matter, your log will be admitted into evidence during the discovery period and it will help prove your case.

Reporting the Harassment

The employer cannot stop the harassment if they have no notice of it. Review your employee manual as to the proper person in the employer’s chain-of-command whom you are directed to report such harassment to, and report it in writing (email is fine) to that person, keeping a copy for your records. You may keep it direct, such as, “I believe his comments are harassing and based upon my sex.” In a situation where the person you are directed to report the harassment to, is the actual harasser, in that case, report it to a person higher in authority and to the head of Human Resources or the company’s civil rights compliance officer. This hopefully will prompt the employer to investigate the allegations and take corrective action against the offender.

In addition to keeping a copy of your letter complaining about harassment, keep (at home) a printout of the proof that you served such notice of the harassment, such as an email or if it cannot be emailed, US Mail with Proof of Delivery.

Don’t Sit on Your Rights - What You Can Do

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced and successful in representing persons of color, women, LGBTQ executives, and disabled persons and in obtaining monetary compensation for their being subjected to harassment and discrimination. I have successfully represented employees who were either terminated or forced out of their employment because of the bias against them.

If you are being subjected to such unlawful workplace discrimination or believe you are being pushed out of your job, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation. I accept discrimination and whistleblower cases from all over New Jersey and have locations in Southern, Central and Northern NJ to meet with clients.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law represents workers throughout the entire state, including Hackensack, Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, Orange, East Orange, Trenton, Paterson, Montclair, Elizabeth, North Brunswick, Cherry Hill, Vineland, Union, Plainfield, Hamilton Township, Lakewood, Edison, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Franklin, Lakewood, and every NJ County, including Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, Essex, Monmouth, Somerset, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, Morris, Gloucester, Atlantic, Burlington, Camden Counties.

 


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