I often tell my clients, it's not illegal to be a "jerk" but it is illegal for an employer to make decisions based upon one's sex, age, color, or a disability. Therefore, I hear often "I was being harassed at work." There is a lot more to this statement that needs to be questioned, and we, as lawyers, need to know what you mean by "I was being harassed at work." A hostile work environment implies more than just a dispute, or disagreement with your supervisor, over policy or the day-to-day affairs of your job. In order to prove a hostile work environment, claim, you will need to demonstrate:
- harassment occurred because you are a member of a protected class;
- the harassment was "severe and pervasive;"
- a reasonable person within your protected class would believe;
- the conditions of employment are hostile or abusive.
If you are able to prove a hostile work environment claim the employer may be liable for not only economic damages, but also for emotional damages and distress claims. An employer may be liable for punitive damages if proven that upper management actually participated or refusal to act to egregious conduct. Another common form of "harassment" is based upon one's gender, but goes into a sexual harassment scenarios. This scenario can occur in two distinct instances:
- Hostile Work Environment; and
- Quid Pro Quo
Hostile work environment involves comments, jokes, and singling one out over another. Quid Pro Quo is a requirement by a supervisor that sexual acts be performed as a condition of employment. Both are unlawful. If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of sexual harassment at the job, contact Mark Law Firm, LLC for your consultation. We are representing clients in South Bound Brook, Somerville, and Manville, New Jersey.