The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) protects workers from being harassed due to certain protected characteristics including race, religion, creed, national origin, gender and sexual orientation. This protection extends to workers who are perceived to be members of a protected class, even if they are not actually members of that group. A NJ Transit electrician has used this provision of the LAD to bring a sexual harassment claim on grounds that co-workers have continually harassed him because they believe that he is homosexual.
John Pastore believes that he was repeatedly picked on because of the way his co-workers interpreted his sexual orientation. Among the allegations, Pastore claims that other workers grabbed his buttocks, splashed him with water, and placed intimidating and inappropriate drawings around his workplace. He reported the activity to local police, NJ Transit police, and NJ Transit's equal employment opportunity office, but says that the harassment has not stopped. Pastore claims he has been a victim of harassment for over two years.
In his lawsuit, Pastore names NJ Transit as a defendant and claims that the company passively allowed a hostile work environment to develop by failing to act on reports of sexual harassment and discrimination. NJ Transit claims that it has a policy in place that explicitly prohibits any harassment based on an employee's protected characteristics. The company policy also states that employees are not allowed to ask their co-workers about their sexual activity or to post inappropriate pictures or drawings in the workplace.
Despite having a written policy in place and reporting the incident to NJ Transit officials, Pastore claims that the harassment has not stopped. He is also upset that none of the alleged harassers were disciplined for their misconduct after the company's equal employment opportunity office investigated the matter. He is now suing in hopes of recovering monetary damages.
Source: The Record, "NJ Transit employee alleges sexual harassment," Karen Rouse, Sept. 5, 2013