Workplace harassment in New Jersey is illegal if it is based on a reason protected by law such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected class. This type of workplace harassment creates a hostile work environment and makes it unbearable for a rational person to conduct their daily duties. For over 25 years, the attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group have helped victims of workplace harassment get the compensation they deserve.
What Is Workplace Harassment in New Jersey?
New Jersey defines workplace harassment as a form of workplace discrimination that is so severe and frequent (or pervasive) that it causes the conditions of your job to change and makes it unbearable for a reasonable person. It is rarely one act of discriminatory behavior. More often than not, workplace harassment is an ongoing series of behaviors that are discriminatory and do not stop under any circumstances, unless the individual harassing you is out of work. The harassment is considered discriminatory is it is based on, but not limited to:
- National origin
- Age (between 18 and 70)
- Military status
- Sexual orientation
- Gender Identity
Workplace harassment in New Jersey is often proven when you can show a direct relationship between being a member of a protected class and a hostile work environment.
1. You are a member of a protected class.
2. The harassment is directly related to your membership in a protected class. Here is where the two combines. Every person is a member of a protected class. However, that does not matter until the harassment is directly related to that membership. For instance, if an employer degrades every person on staff and is horrific to work for, but never mentions your membership in a protected class during this, then you are not experiencing workplace harassment under the guidelines of the law. However, as soon as your employer starts calling you a dumb woman or asking if you are stupid when you have a learning disability, you are now being harassed because you are a member of a protected class.
3. Is the harassment severe and pervasive? Using something like a racial slur may be severe enough it only has to happen once. However, typically, the harassment must be ongoing to be considered workplace harassment under the law.
Workplace harassment occurs when discriminatory behavior goes beyond one or two incidents and becomes severe and frequent. Some examples of workplace harassment include, but are not limited to:
- Your boss is constantly calling you a dumb woman when reprimanding you.
- Your co-worker wears racist shirts to the office daily, despite your complaint to HR.
- Your supervisor uses racist slurs at least twice a week.
- Your co-worker talks about your “little beanie” when referring to your yarmulke, even though you have repeatedly corrected her and asked her to stop
- You supervisor continually calls you derogatory names because of your sexual orientation and then says she is just joking, even though you have asked her to stop.
- You co-worker sends out emails weekly depicting Muslims in a negative light and calls them the daily joke.
- Your boss started speaking very loudly towards you once you turned 40 because he says he knows old age affects hearing. You have asked him to stop numerous times and he keeps saying he is “just joking.”
- You have a documented learning disability and your boss makes jokes about it every time he talks to you.
- Your supervisor mimics your foreign accent when he explains an assignment and then asks if you understand.
- Your co-worker keeps rubbing your stomach without permission because you are pregnant, even though you have asked her to stop
- Your co-workers and supervisors use slurs towards people in the military in daily conversations.
- Your boss propositions you for sex and offers a raise in exchange.
- Your co-worker calls you every derogatory name for women he can think of because you refused to go on a date with him
Depending on the reason for your claim of workplace harassment, you may have 300 days to 4 years to file a complaint.
If you are claiming discrimination under Title VII of the Equal Employment Act of 1964, you have a time limit of 300 days to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will investigate the claim to make sure it falls within the guidelines of discrimination and then issue a Right to Sue letter to allow you to bring a lawsuit against your employer.
If you want to utilize New Jersey State Laws and claim workplace harassment based on discrimination under the New Jersey Laws Against Discrimination (NJ LAD), then you have a time limit of 2 years to file your claim.
If you are claiming the race was the driving factor in your workplace discrimination claim, you can file a lawsuit under 42 U.S. Code §1981 (1981) which provides a time limit of 4 years to file a claim.
As a victim of workplace harassment, you are likely looking for the courts to provide you some relief for the ordeal you suffered. Some of the remedies offered by the courts for your lawsuit may include, but are not limited to:
- Removal of the person responsible for harassment
- Reviewing and revamping policies relating to workplace harassment
- Reimbursement of medical and other related expenses
- Attorney’s fees
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
A lawsuit for workplace harassment in New Jersey may take 4 to 6 months to a year or longer, depending on the parties involved and the details of the case. If your employer is willing to negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement prior to going to trial, your case may be settled in as little as 4 to 6 months.
However, if your employer wants to go to trial or simply refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, your lawsuit may take 8 months to a year or longer to prepare for trial and another few days to several weeks before judgment is entered by the court.
If you are the victim of workplace harassment, it may be a difficult decision to take your employer to court. However, while you make that decision, there are a few things you can do to make sure your case goes smoothly.
1. Contact an experienced workplace harassment attorney immediately.
2. If you have not quit your job, do not do so until consulting with an attorney.
3. If your company has an HR department, file a written complaint about the harassment. This gives the employer the opportunity to right the wrong.
4. If your company has a policy regarding workplace harassment, follow it.
5. Gather evidence. Document every incident, including what occurred, who was involved, where it occurred, and any witness information.
6. Do not waste time. Your time to file a lawsuit is limited. Do not wait until it is too late.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Workplace Harassment Attorneys for a Free Consultation
All employees should be able to go to work and not worry about being harassed because of their race, religion, national origin, age, disability, color, sexual orientation, gender, or any other protected class status. If you have been the victim of workplace harassment in New Jersey, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group can help. Contact us today at (973) 388-8625 for a free consultation. We do not collect any money until you win your case.