Sexual harassment cases in New Jersey over the years have begun to paint a clearer picture of what sort of behavior is and is not acceptable in the workplace. The New Jersey Supreme Court held that two female seminary students were not sexually harassed when a 60-year old asked the women out on a date. The man’s behavior did not involve any explicit language, touching, or other inappropriate actions.
The court particularly noted that just because someone might be socially awkward that does not automatically make them sexual harassers. The women should have told the man to leave them alone, the court suggested. This ruling serves as a reminder that the plaintiff carries the burden in sexual harassment cases and that employers should take some responsibility for managing interactions so as not to constitute sexual harassment. A Monmouth County business lawyer can help you take the proper steps to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace.
New Jersey Sexual Harassment Law
As a result of sexual harassment lawsuits in recent years, New Jersey courts have provided examples of the sort of conduct that constitutes sexual harassment. These cases provide a solid framework for how employers and employees should behave and interact.
- Employers should act quickly and effectively when dealing with sexual harassment incidents. If the evidence suggests that an employee is engaged in sexual harassment, that person should be fired immediately.
- Employees should be assured that making sexual harassment complaints will not result in retaliation of any sort.
- Employers should already have in place mandatory training and enforcement policies relating to sexual harassment. New Jersey Supreme Court precedent indicates that a quick response is not enough. Employers must act to prevent and recognize sexual harassment in addition to responding to it quickly.
- Off-duty conduct counts too. Behavior outside of the work place has a tendency to influence workplace conduct, and an employer is not automatically off the hook for inappropriate sexual remarks or conduct that occurs away from the workplace.
- The statute of limitations is two years for sexual harassment claims in New Jersey. The time begins to run on the day that an employee leaves his or her job.
- Asking out for a date (even persistently) is generally not considered sexual harassment. Plaintiffs are most likely to succeed when the harassment is explicit and shocking, the employee brings the conduct to the attention of the employer, and the employer does little or nothing to remedy the situation or improve the workplace environment.
- Contact an experienced Monmouth County business attorney if you are facing or considering filing a sexual harassment lawsuit.