Chatham Sexual Harassment Attorneys Represent Aggrieved Employees
Protecting clients from unfair treatment in the workplace
Sexual harassment is an assault on a person’s dignity and worth. It can be emotionally scarring and even physically debilitating. Despite efforts to eliminate sexual harassment from the workplace, offending behavior continues and victims seek recourse through the law. If you believe you have been a victim of sexual harassment, Law Offices of Gina Mendola Longarzo, L.L.C. is here to help.
Understanding sexual harassment and the law
Sexual harassment is recognized as a form of discrimination outlawed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It exists when unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature are linked to employment or career advancement, or simply make one’s job intolerable. Further, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) also prohibits harassment based on protected characteristics such as race, sex, or nationality. Under NJLAD, sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual relations or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. There are generally two types of sexual harassment:
- Quid pro quo: The first and most overt type of sexual harassment exists when a person’s employment or career advancement actually depends upon submission to a superior’s sexual overtures. This quid pro quo (Latin phrase used in English to mean a favor for a favor) exchange can be explicitly stated or merely implied by the overall circumstances. Thus, an employee may perceive that he or she must tolerate sexual advances or engage in a sexual relationship in order to continue employment, to achieve advancement, or to avoid adverse employment consequences such as poor evaluations or demotions. Similarly, it is unlawful for an employer or an employer’s agent to condition favorable treatment such as promotions, salary increases, or preferred assignments, on an employee’s acceptance of sexual advances or relations.
- Hostile work environment: This type of sexual harassment occurs when an employee is subjected to sexual, abusive, or offensive conduct because of his or her gender. Such conduct creates an unlawful work environment when it is severe or pervasive enough to make a reasonable person of the employee’s gender believe that the conditions of employment have been altered and the working environment has become hostile or abusive. This conduct does not have to be sexual in nature and does not have to involve physical contact. For example, if a woman is subjected to non-sexual taunts or adverse treatment because of her gender, her work environment may be deemed unlawfully hostile and abusive. This analytical framework may also be applied to hostile work environments created because of an employee’s race, nationality, creed, disability, or other characteristics enumerated by the NJLAD. For example, racial slurs or offensive comments or jokes about a person’s dress, culture, accent or ethnic background may be severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile or abusive environment that violates the NJLAD.
- The unwelcome question: The sticking point for all sexual harassment claims is that the conduct must be unwelcome. Office flirtations and romances, even between a worker and a supervisor, are not harassment when they are fully consensual. Therefore, it is important for a victim to take reasonable steps to establish his or her objection to the behavior.
Our attorneys treat all accusations of sexual misconduct seriously.
Remedies to compensate and restore victims
Victims who prove sexual harassment may collect damages, including:
- Back pay – wages, salary, and fringe benefits that the victim would have received from the point at which she or he was denied employment or promotion up to the date of the trial
- Compensatory damages – for emotional distress, pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.
- Attorney’s Fees – at the court’s discretion, to the prevailing party
- Punitive damages – limited to cases in which the employer’s behavior was intentional, with malice or reckless indifference toward the victim
- Front pay – compensation for anticipated future losses in cases where reinstatement is not practical
Injunctive relief, including reinstating a fired employee or ordering the employer to change policies and practices that allowed the harassment to occur, is also available.
Contact our professionally aggressive employment attorneys for your sexual harassment claim
Law Offices of Gina Mendola Longarzo, L.L.C. will assert your rights against your employer. Call our Chatham, New Jersey office at 973-635-2901 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.