Six Mountainside, New Jersey police department employees recently served the borough with a 45-page complaint, alleging harassment and other offensive behavior in the police department, going back decades. Five male police officers and one female department staff member filed the lawsuit against Mountainside Borough in New Jersey State Superior Court.
The complaint alleges several officers created a hostile work environment. Further, it alleges that the chief of police not only contributed to, but allowed the culture of sexual harassment, nepotism, and hazing, to exist.
The lawsuit claims that certain officers:
- Exposed themselves to others
- Threw sex toys around the department
- Took pictures of their testicles on other employee’s belongings
- Made inappropriate comments to a female employee
- Forwarded racist and pornographic emails to other employees
- Pointed a handgun at other officers
- Held knives to another officer’s throat
- Made a false report about a crime
The plaintiffs further allege that the chief of police not only overlooked these behaviors, but personally engaged in some of them. According to the lawsuit, Mountainside Police administration was also made aware of these issues, but neglected to discipline the officers in question.
The borough of Mountainside is located in Union County, New Jersey, and has around 7,000 residents. Twenty-two police officers are tasked with patrolling four square miles. The chief of police has been employed by the department since 1985.
Sexual Harassment at Work
State and federal laws protect employees from workplace sexual harassment. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there are two recognized types of sexual harassment. Quid pro quo refers to situations when a supervisor obligates a subordinate to tolerate sexual harassment or abuse to keep a job or receive a raise, promotion, or some other benefit.
A hostile work environment, as alleged in the Mountainside police lawsuit, is when unwelcome conduct becomes so pervasive it creates an abusive or offensive work environment.
The impact of harassment in the workplace on employees is severe, especially when it is endorsed or perpetrated by a superior. Victims who choose to speak out often experience retaliation. They may be subjected to continued harassment, passed over for promotions or other benefits, or terminated without cause.
This form of harassment takes an emotional toll on victims as well. Long after the abuse has ended, victims often suffer lingering anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is why it is so important to report sexual harassment, hold perpetrators accountable, and end the cycle of abuse.
Mountainside Borough Responds to Lawsuit
In response to the harassment lawsuit, borough officials placed three employees named in the complaint, including the chief of police, on administrative leave, while they conduct an internal review of the claims. The Union County Prosecutor’s Office also opened an investigation into the harassment allegations.
Middletown Sexual Harassment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Represent Employers and Employees Involved in Workplace Discrimination Complaints
Middletown sexual harassment lawyers at the law firm McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. have extensive experience advocating for both workers and employers regarding sexual harassment matters. They advocate for victims whose lives have been impacted by sexual harassment at work. They also work with employers to create and implement effective anti-harassment policies to protect employees and prevent disruptive litigation.
Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.