Two different New Jersey restaurants have settled with former employees after each found themselves accused of allowing sexual harassment in the workplace. Each agreed to pay the injured ex-employee $20,000, and each will introduce mandatory employee training programs designed to prevent harassment in the future.
The two settlements were announced by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. The state boasts one of the nation’s most progressive laws protecting members of identified classes from discrimination and harassment, and that law has provided victims with a potent way of pursuing justice.
The first incident involved Brian Peeke, a server who resigned from his job at the Voorhees Diner in Voorhees, New Jersey after restaurant employees relentlessly used anti-gay and homophobic insults against him. Peeke says that he worked at the diner for nearly two years until the situation became too intolerable for him. His complaint stated that "the situation at work was so unbearable that he felt he had no choice but to resign," and that employees "would continuously refer to complainant as 'faggot,' 'stupid faggot' and other derogatory remarks related to his sexual orientation.” He also indicated that his complaints about the harassment went unanswered.
The second incident involved a 16-year-old female employee of Playa Bowls in Beach Haven, New Jersey, who complained that her supervisor had touched her back and arms inappropriately. The same man reportedly asked one of the girl’s co-workers whether she would have sex with him.
Each victim will receive a $20,000 payment from their former employers. In commenting on the settlement in a press release, Attorney General Grewal said, "In any workplace setting, people have a right to do the jobs they were hired to do without being subjected to verbal abuse, solicitations for sex, inappropriate touching, and other harassing conduct. These cases should serve as a reminder to employers throughout the State that we take this issue seriously, and will hold accountable any employer who engages in, or tolerates, such harassment.”
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination provides a powerful tool for employees in the face of harassment and discrimination of all kinds. If you have been the victim of workplace discrimination, contact our office today to set up a time to discuss your situation and your rights.