As with any form of bullying or abusive behavior, its effect on victims lasts much longer than the actual behavior. Victims of sexual harassment at work may be reluctant to trust team members and colleagues, may avoid professional development or career progression, or even quit their job to escape the harassment. It is in the best interest of employers to protect workers from discrimination of any kind. And in New Jersey, it’s the law.

New Jersey lawmakers have recognized the impact of sexual harassment on workers and have expanded efforts to put a stop to it. In February 2020, the state published a report that, based on three judicial hearings, breaks down the problem of workplace sexual harassment and proposes better solutions for eliminating it.

If you are a victim of workplace sexual harassment, bear in mind that an educated victim, who knows their legal rights and their employer’s responsibilities, will have more success with reporting the harassment and filing a complaint. It is worth spending time researching your rights.

New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination protects employees from sexual harassment at work. It prohibits discrimination and harassment based on gender (“sex”), race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and other protected qualities, and it makes retaliation against employees who report sexual harassment illegal.

In February of 2020, the law was notably updated to:

  • Clarify the type of behavior that is considered workplace harassment
  • Require workplaces to provide anti-discrimination policies and training to employees
  • Require workplaces to keep detailed records of complaints filed internally
  • Increase the statute of limitations for most sexual harassment complaints to three years

“Quid Pro Quo” Sexual Harassment

The Law Against Discrimination specifically states that “quid pro quo” sexual harassment is prohibited. This means a person in a position of power (such as a manager or owner of a workplace) cannot request sex or sexual favors from employees in trade for better treatment (for example compensation increases or promotions). If it happens, it is considered sexual harassment.

Division of Civil Rights

In 1945, the Division of Civil Rights was formed. It was the first state-level civil rights statute in the U.S. and was an early indicator that New Jersey took employment equality seriously. The division’s job is to protect employees from harassment and to enforce the Law Against Discrimination when harassment happens. 

A state fact sheet summarizes employee workplace protections in New Jersey. For more information about New Jersey law or to file a sexual harassment complaint, see their web site or call 973-648-2700.

Getting Legal Help

If you have tried to file a sexual harassment complaint without success, or if you simply need guidance and support, legal experts across the state, from Adams to Zion, are able to help. Sexual harassment lawyers who specialize in employment law can explain your rights and assist you with filing a complaint.

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