sexual harassment in hostile workplace employment lawyer

Your work can be stressful for a number of reasons, such as burdensome tasks, frequent deadlines, demanding bosses and difficult customers. Although you don’t have a right to an easy job, you do have a right not to be subjected to a hostile work environment based on your gender.

New Jersey workers are protected by the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) against sexual harassment. The New Jersey Supreme Court made it clear, in the landmark case of Lehmann v. Toys R' Us, Inc., that a hostile work environment can violate the LAD, giving the affected worker the right to damages and other remedies.

A hostile work environment can involve discrimination based on any characteristic protected by the LAD, including race, ethnicity, religion and age. It is often a form of sexual harassment. If you believe you are being treated adversely because of your gender, your case of hostile workplace discrimination depends on assembling certain types of proof.

First, if you are a woman, you need to prove that the hostile work environment occurred because you’re a woman. For instance, you might show that:

  • Your harasser made demeaning comments about women in the workplace
  • The harassment involved sexual comments and imagery
  • Other women were also harassed in your workplace but men weren’t

You don’t have to prove that your harasser intended to create a hostile work environment, but you won’t be able to make a case merely because your boss treats everyone badly.

Second, you need to prove that the conduct was so severe or pervasive that a reasonable woman subjected to it would believe that it adversely altered her working conditions or made her work environment intimidating, hostile or abusive. It isn’t a hostile work environment if only an overly sensitive woman would feel it was. On the other hand, you don’t need show actual psychological harm to yourself, since the issue is how a reasonable woman would feel.

An occasional sexual remark is not enough, but a single, severe incident or a series of lesser incidents taken together might be enough. Not all of the sexual harassment need be directed at you personally. If you witnessed other women in your workplace experiencing similar harassment, it may count as evidence of a hostile work environment. If your supervisor causes or participates in the sexual harassment, that can make it more severe than if only your co-workers do.

An employment attorney experienced in representing victims of workplace harassment can be of invaluable assistance. Your attorney will marshal the evidence you need to prove your case and to maximize the damages you can recover if you win.

Cashdan & Kane, PLLC in Westfield, New Jersey has deep experience representing employees facing hostile work environment sexual harassment. Call us at 908-264-9331 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.