Sexual Harassment

image_harassmentThe New Jersey Law Against Discrimination protects employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment consists of unwanted comments or actions directed against an employee because of his or her sex. Sexual harassment can be of the quid pro quo type or the more common hostile working environment claim. In a quid pro quo claim, the employee's terms and conditions of employment are made conditioned upon accepting the sexual advances. A hostile working environment claim rises where the sexual comments or actions are severe and/or pervasive. Even one act of sexual harassment can be severe enough to support a claim. Harassment that occurs repeatedly and/or frequently can satisfy the pervasive requirement.

Types of Sexual Harassment Claims

Quid Pro Quo - The term “quid pro quo” is Latin, and it translates to “a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something.” In commerce it means an exchange of goods or services of roughly equivalent value, but when it refers to sexual harassment it has a much darker meaning. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is what happens when something of value in the workplace – such as a promotion, a raise, benefits, or favorable work assignments – are proffered in exchange for or conditioned on the employee providing sexual favors. In most cases this type of transaction is suggested by a person in a position of authority over the employee. Quid pro quo sexual harassment also describes those situations in which an employee rejects a sexual advance from a person in a position of authority over them, and the rejection results in the loss of something of value in the workplace – or even of losing the job entirely. A quid pro quo sexual harassment claim seeks both compensatory damages such as back pay or economic losses, and punitive damages.

Hostile Work Environment - The term “hostile work environment” refers to conduct in the workplace that either means to or does unreasonably interfere with an employee’s work performance, or that creates an environment that is intimidating, hostile, or offensive. The offending conduct can involve discriminatory comments related to a person’s race, religion or other protected class, but when it specifically involves sexual innuendo or advances, or gender-related comments that are offensive from the perspective of a reasonable person of the same gender as the complaining employee, it is considered hostile work environment sexual harassment. A hostile work environment sexual harassment claim can be filed whether the offending behavior is a single severe instance or repetitive behavior, and can include foul language, sexual references, pornographic pictures, and verbal abuse or touching. A hostile work environment sexual harassment claim seeks both compensatory damages such as back pay or economic losses, and punitive damages.

Alan H. Schorr has successfully litigated many sexual harassment cases. He was the prevailing sexual harassment attorney in the landmark case of Connolly v. Burger King, a case that set the standard for discovery available in sexual harassment cases. Our firm has been aggressively representing employees who have suffered sexual harassment in New Jersey since 1993. Alan H. Schorr, a Certified Civil Trial Attorney, has had many significant legal victories at the Appellate Courts and numerous significant verdicts and settlements. Many of these cases are handled on a contingent basis (no fee unless recovery), and there is always a free initial telephone consultation available.

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