It is not unusual for a workplace to have employees that do not necessarily get along. There may be a specific employee – or group of employees – that say things that annoy others or make jokes that others do not particularly enjoy. There may be times when once merely annoying behavior rises to the level of unlawful harassment of others. It is important for every employer and employee to know how to recognize when behavior crosses the line from annoyances to behavior that is prohibited under state and federal law.
Requirements for Harassment
Harassment is a serious allegation and not every potentially offensive, rude, or distasteful comment will qualify as unlawful harassment in the workplace. The first requirement for harassment to be unlawful is that it must be based on a protected factor. Such factors are set out in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws and they include:
- Race and color
- Sex and pregnancy
- National origin
- Genetic information
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) further protects employees from harassment based on sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, and familial status. While unlawful harassment can be based on any of these factors, sexual harassment is the most commonly reported.
Even if a comment is sexual in nature or regarding other prohibited subjects, an isolated comment or incident likely will not constitute harassment. Instead, one of the following must be true:
- The harasser is a supervisor and bases a promotion, job security, or another important aspect of employment on the employee’s reaction to sexual advances
- The harassment creates a hostile work environment for the employee
If you suffer employment consequences due to sexual harassment by a boss or if you report a hostile work environment to your employer and they fail to stop the harassment, you have the right to compensation for your losses and any emotional distress you suffered due to the harassment.
Call 973-426-0021 today for a free consultation.
If you believe you have been the victims of unlawful workplace harassment, you should consult with a harassment attorney as soon as possible to determine your legal options. David H. Kaplan Attorney at Law is a highly experienced New Jersey lawyer who represents the rights of employees who were the victims of unlawful harassment, discrimination, or retaliation as work. Please contact our office for more information about how we can help today.