Crossing The Line: Discrimination And Harassment At Work

New media attention to workplace dynamics has brought questions regarding proper professional behavior. Discrimination includes the act of, or a proposing act of, treating someone unfavorably based on personal characteristics protected by the law. Employees are protected from direct and indirect discrimination throughout their employment.

Direct discrimination often happens when an employer or co-worker makes unfair assumptions about a person’s abilities based on certain personal characteristics. These assumptions may be made quietly, or in in the manner of direct harassment. Nonetheless, these wrongful assumptions is an act of discrimination in the workplace.

Indirect discrimination occurs when an unreasonable condition is set that disadvantages a person of a certain personal characteristic. This happens when a workplace policy or practice seems to target all workers the same, but in fact sets limitations to a certain person.

Aside from direct and indirect, discrimination may also stem from a variety of unwanted behaviors. Persistent bullying, regular harassment, unwelcoming sexual conduct, subjective and threatening behavior, and general intimidation are unacceptable forms of treatment in the workplace.

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of unacceptable treatment, it’s critical to understand your rights under discrimination laws.


Employees are protected from discrimination during all stages of employment including how interviews and observations are conducted, being offered unfair terms and conditions of employment, being denied employment opportunities, and being unfairly terminated.

While workplace banter and inter-office humor may be harmless, there are limits. When such conduct focuses on protected individual characteristics, then the banter and humor crosses the line into discrimination and harassment.

New Jersey Law

On the both the state and federal level, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation are prohibited. In New Jersey, employers are officially barred from harassment on the basis of an employee’s protected status. In addition, it is against the law to assist or authorize another person to discriminate against someone else. Retaliation is specifically prohibited as it is a violation of the law to punish or threaten someone because they have made a complaint, or helped someone make a complaint of discrimination in the workplace.


Your employer may attempt to seek revenge following your initial claim of harassment. Retaliation is when an employer consciously or subconsciously punishes an employer for engaging in legal activity. Retaliation can include unnecessary discipline, salary reduction, job reassignments, among other negative actions.

If you suspect retaliation, remember it is an act prohibited by law under reasonable circumstances. If you suspect legitimate retaliation you should voice your concern, talk to your supervisor, and ask questions. The matter may resolve itself without further legal action, but if necessary, consult with your lawyer to see what compensation you’re likely to recover from these further damages.

Proven Legal Guidance

Where you work is part of who you are – shouldn’t it be a place you feel comfortable?

If you have been a victim of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation at work, you’ll need trusted legal guidance. As a renowned, 30-year veteran of the courtroom, attorney David H. Kaplan has a passion for the rights of working people.

To get started with a consultation, contact the Law Offices of David H. Kaplan today.