Experienced New Jersey LGBT Sexual Harassment Lawyers
Sexual violence and assault affects every demographic and every community, including the LGBT community. According to the CDC, individuals of the LGBT community experience sexual assault at similar or higher rates than straight people. Sexual harassment in the workplace is inappropriate and unlawful. Regrettably, many employers do not take such matters seriously and do not take appropriate measures to prevent, investigate, and stop sexual harassment.
Employees may also be subject to unlawful retaliation for reporting harassment claims. Employees who have been forced to endure sexual harassment or who have been subjected to retaliation should discuss their situation with one of our skilled attorneys to determine their legal options. Employers who need assistance in preventing, investigating, or defending sexual harassment claims should also contact McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. for a consultation.
Based in Red Bank, NJ, and Marlton, NJ, and representing clients throughout New Jersey, our employment lawyers provide skilled legal counsel in LGBT sexual harassment and hostile work environment matters. Because our lawyers have experience assisting both employees and employers in a wide range of sexual harassment, hostile workplace environment, and other employment matters, we offer unique insight and perspective to our clients.
What Is Considered Sexual Harassment In New Jersey?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) (N.J.S.A. 10:5-3 et seq.), sexual harassment in the workplace can include:
- Unwelcome sexual advances;
- Requests for sexual favors; or
- Other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
The harassment can occur between two people of any gender, and can be initiated by an employer, co-worker, supervisor, client, or customer.
The harassment does not necessarily have to be sexual in nature and can include offensive remarks related to the person’s sex. One-time comments can turn into sexual harassment if they become frequent, severe, create a hostile work environment, or lead to the victim being terminated, demoted, or otherwise affected.
New Jersey Laws Against LGBT Discrimination
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The NJLAD prohibits discrimination based on, among other traits:
- LGBT status including:
- Familial status
- Marital status
- Domestic Partnership or civil union status
- Affectional or sexual orientation
- Gender identity or expression
- Genetic information
- AIDS or HIV status
LGBT Sexual Harassment Statistics
Studies suggest that nearly half of transgender people and bisexual women will experience some sort of sexual violence/harrassment at some point in their lives. Individuals apart of the LGBT community also face higher rate of hate-motivated violence, which could also lead to sexual violence and harassment.
The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that for people of the LGBT community:
- 46% of bisexual women have been raped
- 40% of gay men and 46% of bisexual men have experienced sexual harassment other than rape
- 47% of transgender people are sexually harassed at one point in their life.
Am I Being Sexually Harassed At Work?
LGBT sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of gender discrimination that can include a wide range of behaviors or mistreatment, including but not limited to:
- Treating employees of a certain gender differently, such as paying them less or failing to promote them.
- Making unwelcome innuendos, jokes or conversation that make a person of a certain gender or orientation feel uncomfortable.
- Objectifying an employee based on their appearance.
- Sending emails or images of a sexual nature.
- Making unwanted physical contact such as patting, touching, or rubbing.
- Subjecting persons of a certain gender to increased scrutiny, criticism, and harassment, or otherwise making their workplace uncomfortable.
- Sexual advances or propositions, including suggestions of trading advancement for sexual favors, commonly known as quid pro quo sexual harassment.
- Verbal or physical abuse.
- Using sexist slurs or comments based on LGBT status.
- Terminating or disciplining an employee in retaliation for making a complaint about sexual harassment.
What Should LGBT Employees Do If They Feel Sexually Harassed?
Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) and other federal statutes, your employer has a responsibility to prevent, investigate, and properly address sexual harassment complaints. If you have been subjected to harassment, the individual harasser and your employer may be responsible to compensate you for economic damages and your pain and suffering.
If harassment occurs, it is important to take detailed notes. This documentation can help with your sexual harassment claim. These records should include details such as:
- The nature of the harassment;
- When the harassment took place;
- Who was involved;
- The location of the harassment; and
- If there were any witnesses.
In addition to keeping records of the harassment, it is also important to take the following actions:
- Tell the harasser that their actions are making you uncomfortable and ask them to stop.
- If the harassment continues, inform your manager and consult your employee handbook for information about formal complaints.
- Consult a New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer.
Representing Employers In NJ Sexual Harassment Claims
Employers need to take sexual harassment seriously, have effective policies, and strictly enforce these policies. Ignoring problems, minimizing employee complaints, failing to perform thorough investigations, or failing to take proper remedial action can create substantial liability for supervisors and employers.
Employers can avoid liability for LGBT sexual harassment if they can prove that:
- They took steps to prevent or correct the harassment.
- The employee did not heed or take advantage of their attempts to prevent or correct the harassment.
Our attorneys provide guidance to minimize potential risk and exposure. Our firm can help employers create employee handbooks and policies, provide a clear understanding of employment laws, and help companies avoid future employment law claims.
Our firm is highly experienced at helping employers create and implement effective harassment and anti-discrimination policies. We also specialize in investigating employee complaints, helping to implement remedial plans and vigorously defending claims when necessary. Any employer or individual accused of harassment or allowing harassment to occur should contact McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. at the earliest opportunity for a free consultation.