New Jersey’s courts have ruled, when interpreting New Jersey’s laws against discrimination, that employers have certain legal obligations to:
- Prevent workplace harassment
- Investigate complaints of harassment
- Implement solutions that effectively stop harassment immediately
The Employer’s Obligation to Take Steps to Prevent Harassment
An employer has a legal obligation to take steps to prevent workplace harassment from occurring. The first step requires that an employer draft and distribute to its employees an anti-harassment policy. The anti-harassment policy should provide an effective procedure for the prompt investigation and remediation of all workplace harassment claims. This could mean designating specific employees the responsibility of receiving and then investigating harassment complaints in a way that the harassment victim does not suffer retaliation.
Second, an employer should conduct periodic training classes or sessions so that its employees are educated as to what constitutes workplace harassment, its expectations of employees, and the procedures that the employer has established regarding investigating and addressing harassment complaints. An employer’s failure to take any of these steps may subject the employer to liability under the Law Against Discrimination.
The Employer’s Obligation to Promptly Investigate and Take Steps to Stop Harassment
Employers must investigate all harassment complaints, even if the complaining employee wishes to keep his/her complaint and name confidential. An employer who fails to promptly investigate a harassment complaint and then take swift action to put an end to the harassment could be liable for damages. This latter requirement is critical as the solution implemented by the employer must effectively bring the workplace harassment to an end. If the employer’s action does not, the employer must take further steps to ensure that the harassment comes to an end.
The employer has legal obligations to end workplace harassment even if the victims do not complain. New Jersey courts have ruled that an employer may be held liable if it knew about the illegal harassment, regardless of whether anyone complained. For example, if a supervisor is a witness to illegal harassment, then the employer is obviously aware of the workplace harassment. New Jersey courts have also ruled that an employer should have known about the harassment. For example, if the harassment is so frequent and/or widespread throughout the workplace that supervisors should have been aware, the employer will be held liable.
If you have been the victim of workplace harassment, please contact Green Savits, LLC today by completing the form on this page or calling (973) 695-7777 to schedule your initial consultation. Our employment law attorneys serve clients in Northern and Central New Jersey.