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Sexual Harassment

Accomplished Hackensack law firm litigates all types of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is not just demeaning — it is against the law. At Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack, we aggressively pursue relief for New Jersey employees subjected to this kind of mistreatment and work tirelessly to hold wrongdoers accountable. Sexual harassment directly assaults a person’s dignity. Employees may be subjected to a hostile sexually charged work environment, may be pressured into performing sexual acts against their will, or may be punished for refusing to submit to sexual advances. Acts motivated by gender or sex may create unwanted and offensive attention, embarrass employees or make the workplace intolerable.

As one of New Jersey’s largest plaintiff-side employment law firms, we have successfully litigated claims on behalf of personnel at all levels, including executives, directors and officers. We handle sexual harassment suits involving:

  • Quid pro quo advances — This type of sexual harassment can include threats of negative job actions or offers of extra benefits in exchange for sexual attention. In quid pro quo cases, we represent employees who have faced pressure to satisfy a supervisor’s sexual demands, been punished for rejecting advances, or mistreated after ending a consensual relationship.
  • Hostile work environment— Severe or pervasive offensive conduct that is sexual or motivated by gender can create a hostile work environment. These claims can stem from misconduct from a co-worker or supervisor and may involve language, pictures, gestures, touching or other offensive behavior.
  • Retaliation— Your employer cannot punish you for objecting to or complaining about sexual harassment, even if you complain verbally to an agent of the employer. If you are fired, suspended, demoted, denied an earned raise, harassed or suffer any other retaliatory job action, our discrimination attorneys can help you seek justice.

We have the knowledge and resources to take on powerful interests during administrative proceedings and in court. Our attorneys have obtained substantial compensation for workers.

Our Lawyers Litigate Quid Pro Quo Claims

Quid pro quo sexual harassment (or “this for that” sexual harassment) occurs when a superior requires a subordinate to submit to unwelcome sexual conduct as a condition of the job, to receive some work benefit, or to avoid some adverse employment action. At Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., our experienced attorneys represent victims of this illegal conduct and help them seek damages for the harm they have suffered. We file appropriate claims against the companies (and sometimes the perpetrators) who might be liable for such actions. If your boss has pressured you for sexual attention on the condition that you’ll receive a benefit — or be denied one if you don’t acquiesce to the demands — we will help you enforce your rights.

Throughout New Jersey, our sexual harassment lawyers litigate all types of quid pro quo claims, including those involving:

  • Threats of firing or other punishment — If you’ve been subjected to an unwanted sexual advance from a superior and, after rebuffing the advance, suffered a negative job consequence, you may have a case. Negative consequences can include termination, demotion, the denial of a promotion or raise, being forced to work unpaid overtime, being given a poor performance review, or getting dead-end assignments.
  • Offers of additional benefits — Just as supervisors cannot punish or threaten an employee who refuses their sexual advances, they are also barred from providing benefits to workers who comply with their overtures. We represent individuals who have been offered promotions, bonuses and other inducements from harassing bosses.
  • Job applicants — You do not have to be hired to experience quid pro quo sexual harassment. If a potential employer indicates that providing sexual favors will get you a job or will be part of your job, our lawyers can bring a claim on your behalf.

If you have been subjected to this sort of treatment, our accomplished discrimination attorneys work diligently to obtain a financial recovery that fully accounts for the harm you have suffered.

Legal protections against workplace harassment

It may be more beneficial to pursue a claim under state law, as opposed to federal law. New Jersey offers more protections than federal law in regard to:

  • Types of harassment — The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) considers sexual harassment to be a form of gender-based discrimination. Sexual harassment may involve verbal, visual, physical or digital contact.
  • Employer intervention — Once your employer is aware, or should be aware, that sexual harassment is occurring, they are legally obligated to try to stop it and prevent future harassment.
  • Size of employer — While federal law only allows complaints against employers with at least 15 employees, New Jersey employers of all sizes are bound by the LAD.
  • Type of employment — The LAD provides protections for employees and independent contractors, the latter of which are not protected by federal employment discrimination laws.

For assistance dealing with on-the-job sexual harassment, enlist an employment attorney.

Steps to take when experiencing sexual harassment

If you are subjected to sexual harassment at work, you can take several steps to bolster your case. Make sure you:

  • Tell the harasser(s) to stop the unwelcome treatment
  • Report the incident to your manager, a human resources representative and the harasser’s manager(s) and consider making the report in writing
  • Specify that you are experiencing sexual harassment, which is illegal
  • Create a journal documenting events as they occur
  • Follow up verbal statements with written correspondence, such as email

If these actions do not end the problem, contact a New Jersey sexual harassment attorney immediately. We offer guidance to help end the conduct and protect your rights.

What evidence do you need to prove harassment in NJ?

Different types of evidence may be used to prove that sexual harassment occurred at work. Third-party witness testimony may be powerful but might not be available. If you can, document the following:

In New Jersey, it is legal to create a recording with the consent of just one party: yourself. If you can safely record audio or video of the harassment, save the recording to a personal phone or computer.

Remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in NJ

A variety of remedies are available to victims of sexual harassment, such as compensation for economic losses and emotional distress. In cases of extreme misbehavior, punitive damages might be awarded. Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, there are no statutory limits on the amount a plaintiff can recover.

What is the statute of limitations on harassment in NJ?

The statute of limitations for filing a sexual harassment claim against a New Jersey employer is two years from the date of harassment. If you were subjected to sexual harassment, contact an attorney promptly to build your case while evidence is fresh.

Frequently Asked Questions on Sexual Harassment in New Jersey

Headlines demonstrate that sexual harassment continues to be rampant and is a serious problem to employees. In addition to federal laws, New Jersey and New York State and City have laws that prohibit harassment based upon sex or gender. These laws require that employers have effective policies and procedures to prevent sexual harassment and that employers do something to stop it when they become aware that sexual harassment may be occurring.

At Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., our attorneys understand that you may have questions about the law, and we are happy to answer them. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about sexual harassment in the workplace that we are asked by our clients:


Q: What is sexual harassment?

A: Sexual harassment in the workplace is defined as unwanted sexual advances or behavior by an employee’s supervisors and/or co-workers. There are two types. The first is called quid pro quo (a fancy lawyer term / Latin meaning “this for that”). Quid pro quo sexual harassment is most commonly a request for sexual favors coupled with a tangible job action — or a promise or threat of one — to reward acquiescence or punish resistance to the request (e.g., sleep with me and you get/keep the job). It can also occur if adverse employment actions result from the termination of a consensual sexual relationship with a supervisor. The second is hostile work environment harassment. Hostile work environment sexual harassment is unwelcome physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature that is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with work or alters the terms and conditions of employment.

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Q: Who can be a sexual harassment victim?

A: All employees, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, are protected by state and federal laws prohibiting sexual harassment. A hostile work environment can be the basis of a sexual harassment suit by any employee, regardless of which gender is the overt target of the conduct. A man can sexually harass another man. A woman can sexually harass a man. The claim is not just limited to heterosexual harassment of a woman by a man (although that tends to be the most common form). What matters is that the unwelcome conduct is motivated by sex or gender.

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Q: What is the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and who enforces it?

A: The LAD is a broad and remedial New Jersey law that protects employees from various types of discrimination, including sexual harassment. Claims under the LAD can be advanced directly in court (through a lawsuit) or with the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights (DCR), a state agency that reviews complaints and takes administrative or legal action where it finds LAD violations. New York has similar proceedings under its State and City Human Rights laws.

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Q: What is the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)?

A: The EEOC is the federal agency that investigates and prosecutes complaints for violation of federal laws that prohibit discrimination against a job applicant or employee, including sexual harassment. Employees seeking to sue under federal law must first file their complaint with the EEOC (this is different from New Jersey Law, which permits the employee to elect to sue in court, right away).

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Q: Is there a time limit for filing a sexual harassment claim?

A: Yes. Under the New Jersey LAD, there is a two-year statute of limitations. Different (shorter) time periods apply if the employee elects to file the complaint with a government agency (the EEOC or DCR).

Q: Can I file a claim with both the NJ Division of Civil Rights and the EEOC?

A: A person alleging sexual harassment has the right to file complaints with the EEOC and the DCR, who have a shared arrangement for enforcing laws. However, dual filing is unnecessary because the two agencies have a work-sharing arrangement. It is very important that you speak with an attorney about which law is at play (federal, state, or both) and what venue you should pursue your claim in — BEFORE you file a claim with an administrative agency.

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Q: Can I get fired for reporting sexual harassment?

A: Employers may try to mask or conceal the retaliatory motive by fabricating other reasons for the adverse employment action. It is unlawful to fire or otherwise retaliate against an employee for internally reporting sexual harassment. The same laws that make sexual harassment illegal make such unlawful retaliation illegal. If you have been subjected to adverse treatment (discharge, demotion, or harassment for complaining) after lodging a complaint, you may have a claim under federal or state law. It is important to know your rights if you are experiencing retaliation and you should immediately seek to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.

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Contact a dedicated New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer for a confidential consultation

The attorneys of Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack represent New Jersey claimants in sexual harassment cases and other employment matters. To schedule a consultation with a committed sexual harassment attorney, call 551-245-8894 or contact us online. We also have offices in Manhattan and Pearl River, New York.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch
Retired

About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

Bruce  L.  Atkins Attorney Photo
Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey’s premier practitioners of employment and civil litigation. He has been selected to the New Jersey Super Lawyers prestigious list every year since 2005.  This honor, bestowed upon a recipient by the votes of his peers, is a powerful nod to the skill Mr. Atkins…

Adam  J.  Kleinfeldt Attorney Photo
Adam J. Kleinfeldt
Partner

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict…

Diane  Englander  Peyser Attorney Photo
Diane Englander Peyser
Attorney

About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination,…

Debra M. McGarvey Attorney Photo
Debra M. McGarvey
Attorney

About Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA),…

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