Two survivors of the deadly 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando claimed that a law firm employee sexually harassed them while the firm was using them to secure additional clients. The firm made a motion to have the plaintiffs’ claims dismissed, but earlier this month, a Camden County, New Jersey state judge denied their motion. He determined that the two men were entitled to protection from sexual harassment under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).
Some Case History
The two male survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting began working with a New Jersey firm in 2017 after a firm representative contacted them. The men were asked to locate survivors of the Las Vegas country music concert at Mandalay Bay Resort, where 58 people were tragically killed, and to promote the firm’s services to them.
The plaintiffs were taken on cross-country excursions to find these survivors and then recruit them to be potential clients. They allege that an office manager of the firm propositioned both of them during this time. It was revealed that the firm had paid for the pair’s food, lodging, and transportation in exchange for soliciting new clients. The plaintiffs claim that the firm exploited their vulnerable emotional states at the time, and that they were targeted based on their sexual orientation and gender.
While the plaintiffs were traveling to Nevada, they said that they received texts with explicit messages and photographs with sexual overtones from the manager. When these advances were turned down, the officer manager threatened them, saying he would not give them money, food, or room and board. They further alleged that the manager drove recklessly afterwards, posing a danger to them. It was shown earlier that the manager had a history of sexually harassing the firm’s clients, citing a 2015 case.
The judge’s decision not to dismiss the discrimination charges was based on workplace protections. He said that these could apply, since the plaintiffs had been recruited to work for the firm. Even though it was an untraditional employer-employee relationship, the plaintiffs could be considered as independent contractors and be covered under the LAD. Although liability usually does not come into play without a formal employee agreement, the judge felt that the “public’s strong interest in a discrimination-free workplace” took precedence. One of the two men is now represented by Matthew A. Luber of McOmber & McOmber, P.C.
Read the story at Law360.
Contact a Marlton Sexual Harassment Lawyer at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. for Help with Sexual Harassment Claims
If are wondering whether to pursue compensation for sexual harassment, reach out to a knowledgeable Marlton sexual harassment lawyer at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. for a free case consultation. With offices in Red Bank and Marlton, New Jersey, we represent clients in Cherry Hill and Middletown, New Jersey. Complete an online contact form or call us at 732-842-6500 or 856-985-9800 today.