In the fiscal year of 2021, the EEOC reported that 2,279 charges of sexual harassment reached their desks. This number comprised 40.8% of all workplace harassment charges.
Unfortunately, thousands of workplace harassment charges occur each year. Although it seems like common sense to treat people with kindness and respect, this is not the experience of victims of sexual and other forms of harassment.
Consider whether it’s time to hire New Jersey workplace harassment lawyers. An attorney can help you decide if you have a strong legal case against your employer due to the treatment to which you have been subjected.
If you’re unsure whether you need a lawyer yet, don’t worry: an experienced workplace sexual harassment lawyer can help you consider your situation and options.
Defining Workplace Harassment
What constitutes workplace harassment? As discussed in our Comprehensive Guide to Workplace Harassment, harassing behavior contradicts protections provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
It also violates provisions determined by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. This law relates to age discrimination in the workplace.
Workplace harassment violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Finally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission mandates against offensive behavior, whether verbal or physical, involving:
- physical or mental disability
- genetic information
There’s a difference between being rude and breaking the law. These behaviors become illegal when consenting to or tolerating them is a prerequisite to employment. Likewise, it becomes illegal if these behaviors lead to a hostile work environment.
Some companies and states progress beyond these standards. For example, some states consider discrimination against smokers harassment. New Jersey state law forbids discrimination against smokers.
The same often holds for discrimination based on arrest records. Harassment can come in many forms, including:
- offensive jokes
There are also several types of harassment specific to the workplace.
Types of Workplace Harassment
As you can see, several unlawful actions could qualify as workplace harassment. There are several ways to categorize these behaviors as workplace harassment. Read on to become more familiar with harassment based on protected identities and power dynamics.
Sexual Orientation Harassment
People have many reasons for revealing their sexual orientation at work. Sometimes it helps them avoid awkward encounters with coworkers who want to set them up or ask them out with people to whom they’re not attracted.
Other times, they don’t want to hide their private lives. Whatever the case, it’s a person’s right to work peacefully without facing harassment for their sexual orientation.
Fortunately, the law codifies these rights. Insulting a coworker or employee because of their sexual orientation is legally prohibited in workplaces. If you experience this behavior, you can report workplace harassment.
Harassment Using Power or Authority
Another type of workplace harassment comes from coworkers in positions of power. Someone may abuse their authority by intimidating workers to serve their purposes. They may also make the workplace environment hostile for employees based on personal grudges against them.
Things can also become complex and problematic when employers try to manipulate employees into firing offenses. For example, an employer may request that a person perform a task their disability prevents them from doing. This action could even cause disabled workers to suffer an injury.
Sexual harassment constitutes a significant portion of workplace harassment cases. Sexual harassment can include several actions, including:
- Showing audiovisual material with explicit sexual content
- Making comments with sexual implications and meanings
- Staring at somebody in sexual ways, particularly by staring at their breasts or buttocks
Please note that sexual harassment does not have to be aimed at you to report it. You can report sexually harassing behavior that you witness.
In the work environment, bullying does not always look the same; it can range from ongoing acts of aggression to overt intimidation. This behavior has the potential to turn a productive workplace into a hostile setting, impacting not just your job performance but your emotional and mental health as well. If you are facing this kind of treatment at work, it is essential to step forward and secure your rights.
The internet provides harassers with the guise of anonymity and may encourage them to continue their unwanted behavior without fear of consequence. This form of harassment infests various online platforms, from workplace communication tools to private social media sites. Thankfully, cyberbullying isn’t as anonymous as the perpetrators often believe, and there are usually digital breadcrumbs to follow.
Psychological harassment stems from harmful actions directed at an employee that can lead to detrimental psychological, emotional, or physical effects. It can take many forms, including, but not limited to, spreading malicious rumors, unjust criticism, deliberate exclusion, overloading with work or setting impossible deadlines, taking credit for another’s work, or subjecting an individual to demeaning tasks. This form of harassment can create a hostile work environment, affecting the overall well-being and productivity of the individual and the workplace as a whole.
Harassment During Job Interviews
Harassment can also happen in the course of a job interview. Employers can take advantage of their position during an interview to ask discriminatory questions.
Even in cases where these questions are well-meaning, like when an employer may want to learn more about you personally before hiring you, asking about protected identities such as age, sexual orientation, family status, and others is illegal. Interviewers must avoid questions about:
- sexual orientation
- country of origin
You can consult with a lawyer if you feel these questions were discriminatory. You may have an employment discrimination case.
When to Hire New Jersey Workplace Harassment Lawyers
There are a few remedies you can pursue when you face harassment. First, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests that you discuss the actions with the perpetrator. Sometimes, you can explain to these people that their actions cause you discomfort and convince them to stop.
However, in many cases, this may not seem like a viable option. In these cases, you report harassment to a supervisor. These supervisors may bring the news to the HR department to work through this issue.
Once you’ve gone through these channels, you can consult with a lawyer if no solution presents itself. Lawyers can help you bring a compelling case before the court to stop the harassment and potentially receive restitution for the harassment.
An experienced attorney is a helpful resource because of their extensive knowledge of your state’s legal provisions. They can determine whether your case can win before a jury.
Likewise, lawyers can help you reach a settlement outside the courtroom without a trial. Hiring an attorney is an excellent option if somebody violates your workplace rights.
Work With Our Attorneys Today
If you’ve experienced workplace harassment, you may want to hire a lawyer like the experienced attorneys at McOmber McOmber & Luber. If you have experienced harassment in the workplace and are weighing your options, consider working with us! We’ve spent decades fighting for our client’s rights in court. We offer our services to several areas in New Jersey, including Red Bank, Marlton, and Newark.
We don’t just fight for your rights as a client; we approach every case with compassion and offer a touch of personal support when our clients need it most.
We refuse to take advantage of vulnerable clients. Our law firm works on a contingency basis, meaning we only get paid if you win your case. So, don’t hesitate. Schedule a free initial consultation with us today!