A federal lawsuit has been filed against a New Jersey State Police Academy instructor by a former female recruit. Her claim cites “endless sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances” that were so pervasive that they forced her to leave the academy and robbed her of her lifelong dream of becoming a state trooper.
The case was filed against an instructor at the Sea Girt academy. The instructor made him the recruit’s superior, and during the 13 weeks between January and April that she attended the academy he frequently singled her out for tasks that placed her in his company with nobody else present. He would then make comments about her appearance and ask her out on dates, including saying, “I bet you look different outside of here, but I still think you look good,” and asking, “If I’m in your area over the weekend and I invited you to dinner, would you go?” The recruit felt herself in a position where refusing his orders jeopardized both her position within the academy and potentially her career.
The overt behavior was witnessed by other recruits and superior officers, who were so aware of the situation that they began referring to the instructor as her “husband.” The instructor would call her by her first name instead of using her last name as was done with other recruits, and also went outside of typical handcuff training behavior with her. Whereas recruits are typically instructed to cuff each other as part of their training, the instructor would frequently pull her out of the line and cuff her himself. The suit claims that in one case, he touched her inappropriately while doing so, and in another case, he visited her in the academy’s quarantine room and told her that he was going to give her a “one-on-one” lesson in pat-downs.
The former recruit’s lawsuit indicates that the advances made by the instructor caused her so much anxiety that she would hide in the bathroom during free time in order to avoid him. She ended up resigning before completing the 24-week training despite superior officers urging her to stay, with one going so far as to say that his “cop instinct” told him “something wasn’t right” with the way that the instructor was treating her.
In the state of New Jersey, employees are protected against sexual harassment by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), which prohibits unwanted comments or actions directed against an employee because of his or her sex. If you have been a victim of this type of behavior and would like to know more about your rights, contact us today to set up a confidential consultation.