Workplace sexual harassment is an unfortunate reality that many individuals face. In New Jersey, it is crucial to be aware of the support available to victims and understand the steps to take when seeking justice.
In this blog post, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to finding support for workplace sexual harassment in NJ, offering tangible and useful tips to help you navigate through this challenging situation.
Understanding & Recognizing Workplace Sexual Harassment
Understanding what constitutes workplace sexual harassment is essential for victims and witnesses alike. Workplace sexual harassment refers to any unwelcome or offensive behavior of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or intimidating work environment. Recognizing and addressing such behavior is crucial to protect victims' well-being and maintain a respectful workplace atmosphere.
This section will outline the different forms of sexual harassment, including verbal, physical, and visual, and provide examples to help individuals identify such behavior.
Verbal Sexual Harassment:
Verbal sexual harassment involves unwelcome comments, jokes, or remarks of a sexual nature. It creates an uncomfortable or hostile environment for the victim. Examples of verbal sexual harassment include:
- Sexually explicit or offensive jokes or comments
- Insults or derogatory remarks based on gender or sexual orientation
- Unwanted sexual advances or propositions
- Sexual comments about someone's body or appearance
- Repeatedly asking intrusive or personal questions of a sexual nature
Physical Sexual Harassment:
Physical sexual harassment encompasses any unwanted physical contact or advances of a sexual nature. It can make the victim feel violated, intimidated, or unsafe. Examples of physical sexual harassment include:
- Inappropriate touching, such as groping, pinching, or patting in a sexual manner
- Forcing unwanted physical contact, such as hugging, kissing, or fondling
- Blocking someone's path or cornering them in a sexual or intimidating way
- Brushing up against someone's body in a sexual manner
Visual Sexual Harassment:
Visual sexual harassment involves displaying or sharing explicit or offensive material, gestures, or actions that are of a sexual nature. It can create a hostile work environment and make individuals feel uncomfortable or objectified. Examples of visual sexual harassment include:
- Showing or sharing explicit or pornographic images, videos, or literature
- Displaying sexually suggestive or explicit posters, calendars, or drawings
- Making lewd gestures or sexually explicit facial expressions
- Staring or leering at someone in a sexually suggestive or intimidating manner
Reporting the Incident
Reporting the incident promptly and accurately is crucial for victims seeking support. This section will guide you through the steps to report workplace sexual harassment, including who to report to within your organization, the importance of documenting incidents, and the relevant deadlines to be aware of.
Identify the Appropriate Person or Department to Report to: When you experience workplace sexual harassment, it is important to know who to report it to within your organization. Review your company's policies and procedures to determine the designated individuals or departments responsible for handling such complaints. This may be your supervisor, human resources representative, or a specific individual assigned to address workplace misconduct. If your organization does not have clear guidelines, consult with an employment attorney or reach out to external resources like the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights (DCR) for guidance.
Document Incidents: Documenting incidents of workplace sexual harassment is crucial for several reasons. It helps you recall specific details accurately and provides essential evidence if you decide to take legal action. When documenting incidents, include the date, time, location, and a detailed description of what occurred. Be sure to note any witnesses present and any steps you took to address the issue. Preserve any written communication, emails, or text messages related to the harassment as well. Keeping a thorough record strengthens your case and assists investigators and attorneys in understanding the extent and frequency of the harassment.
Understand Reporting Deadlines: In New Jersey, there are specific deadlines for reporting workplace sexual harassment. Familiarize yourself with these deadlines to ensure you take appropriate action within the required timeframe. While the time limits may vary depending on the circumstances, it is generally advisable to report incidents as soon as possible. Prompt reporting not only demonstrates your commitment to addressing the issue but can also help prevent future occurrences and protect others from similar harassment. If you are unsure about the deadlines or need more information, consult an employment attorney or reach out to the DCR for clarification.
Follow Reporting Procedures: Once you have identified the appropriate person or department to report to, follow the established reporting procedures within your organization. This typically involves submitting a written complaint or filling out a specific form detailing the incidents of workplace sexual harassment. Be as specific as possible and attach any supporting evidence or documentation you have gathered. If you feel uncomfortable reporting to someone within your organization or if your complaint is not addressed appropriately, you may need to escalate the matter to external entities, such as the DCR or an employment attorney.
Maintain Confidentiality and Seek Support: During the reporting process, it is crucial to prioritize your well-being and mental health. Seek support from trusted friends, family members, or counselors who can provide guidance and emotional assistance. Understand that confidentiality is vital, and your employer should respect your privacy throughout the investigation. If you face any form of retaliation or adverse treatment for reporting workplace sexual harassment, document these incidents as well and consult with an employment attorney to understand your rights and potential legal remedies.
Seeking Legal Advice
When facing workplace sexual harassment, seeking legal advice is crucial to understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and take appropriate action. When choosing an employment law firm, consider your specific needs, the firm's reputation, expertise, success rates, and dedication to supporting victims of workplace sexual harassment. Finding the right legal representation is crucial for obtaining the justice and support you deserve!
The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks, P.C. is a reputable employment law firm in New Jersey known for our expertise in handling workplace sexual harassment cases. Our team has a demonstrated commitment to helping victims of sexual harassment by providing expert legal representation and support. The experienced attorneys at our firm understand the complexities of sexual harassment laws in NJ and strive to ensure victims' rights are protected.
Understanding Your Rights
Victims of workplace sexual harassment have legal rights that protect them from retaliation and discrimination. We will explain the rights provided by federal and state laws in NJ, empowering individuals to take appropriate action.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination based on various protected characteristics, including sex. It provides important rights for individuals who experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Under Title VII, victims have the right to:
Work in an environment free from sexual harassment: Title VII mandates that employers maintain a workplace free from sexual harassment, ensuring that individuals are not subjected to unwelcome advances, comments, or conduct of a sexual nature.
Seek legal remedies for sexual harassment: Title VII empowers individuals to pursue legal action against their employers for sexual harassment. Victims can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or file a lawsuit directly in federal court.
Protection against retaliation: Title VII protects individuals from retaliation for reporting or opposing sexual harassment. It is illegal for employers to take adverse actions, such as termination, demotion, or harassment, against employees who exercise their rights under Title VII.
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD):
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) is a state law that provides additional protections against workplace sexual harassment in New Jersey. The LAD goes beyond federal law to prohibit workplace discrimination based on various protected characteristics, including sex. The LAD grants individuals the following rights:
Protection from sexual harassment: The LAD prohibits sexual harassment in employment, ensuring that individuals are protected from unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or intimidating work environment.
Broader protections: The LAD covers a broader range of employers and employees than federal law. It applies to all employers, regardless of the number of employees, and covers not only employees but also job applicants and independent contractors.
Remedies and damages: The LAD provides victims of sexual harassment with legal remedies, including monetary damages for emotional distress, lost wages, and attorney's fees. It allows individuals to pursue a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator and the employer.
Statute of limitations: The LAD has a two-year statute of limitations for filing a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights (DCR) or filing a lawsuit in state court. It is important to be aware of these time limits to take appropriate action within the specified timeframe.
Accessing Support Services
Victims of workplace sexual harassment often require emotional support and guidance throughout the process. We will highlight various support services available in NJ, ensuring victims have access to the resources they need.
New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA):
The New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) is a statewide organization that offers comprehensive support services for survivors of sexual assault, including workplace sexual harassment. They provide a helpline, counseling services, referrals to local resources, and assistance with navigating the legal process. The NJCASA website is a valuable resource for finding local counseling centers and support groups.
Local Counseling Centers:
Local counseling centers and mental health organizations in New Jersey often offer specialized services for survivors of sexual harassment and assault. These centers provide confidential counseling and therapy sessions to help individuals cope with the emotional and psychological effects of workplace sexual harassment. Some organizations to consider include:
- New Jersey Association of Women's Centers: They offer counseling, support groups, and legal advocacy for survivors of sexual harassment and assault.
- New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies: They provide a directory of mental health organizations and resources across the state that offer counseling services.
Helplines and Hotlines:
Helplines and hotlines offer immediate support, guidance, and information for individuals experiencing workplace sexual harassment. They provide a safe space to discuss concerns, ask questions, and seek assistance. Some helplines and hotlines available in New Jersey include:
- New Jersey Division on Women's Domestic Violence Hotline: They offer confidential support and resources for victims of domestic violence, which can be relevant to workplace sexual harassment situations.
- New Jersey Division of Civil Rights (DCR) Helpline: The DCR helpline can provide guidance and answer questions about reporting workplace sexual harassment and your rights under state law.
Support groups can be instrumental in helping individuals connect with others who have experienced workplace sexual harassment. Sharing experiences, emotions, and coping strategies with others who have faced similar situations can provide validation, empathy, and a sense of community. Local women's centers, mental health organizations, or the NJCASA may facilitate support groups or provide referrals to relevant groups in your area.
Seeking support is a personal decision, and individuals may have different preferences for the type of support they find most helpful. Consider exploring these resources and determining which ones align with your needs and comfort level.
Representation for Workplace Sexual Harassment
Workplace sexual harassment is a serious issue that demands attention and action. In New Jersey, victims have legal protections and a range of resources to turn to for support. By understanding their rights and the steps to take, individuals can empower themselves and work towards creating a safer and more inclusive work environment. No one should tolerate workplace sexual harassment, and seeking assistance is an important step toward justice and healing.
Contact our team today to discuss your case!