They say knowledge is power. We, as experienced NJ employment attorneys, certainly agree.
To that end, eBossWatch, an organization that allows employees to monitor bosses, used Boss' Day this year to release a study on workplace harassment and discrimination, and the common charges that are costing employers millions. During the last 12 months, such suits have resulted in more than $356 million in payouts and judgments, according to the Insurance Journal.
The most common violation leading to sizable settlement or jury award: Sexual Harassment. Passaic County, New Jersey had the 12th largest payout: $3.7 million in an age discrimination judgment. A $25 million race discrimination lawsuit in Buffalo placed second on the list.
Mercy Hospital took the dubious honors of paying the highest award: $168 million in Sacramento for a sexual harassment lawsuit judgment. Companies in Chicago reported 3 of the 7 highest payouts. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prevents discrimination based on the protected statuses of race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex (including pregnancy and sexual harassment), marital status, domestic partnership or civil union status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information liability for military service, or mental or physical disability, including AIDS and HIV related illnesses.
But the vast majority of employment lawsuits in New Jersey involve sexual harassment or discrimination based on age, sex or race. The same holds true when looking at statistics nationwide: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported 1,841 cases in New Jersey last year.
-624 sex-based employment lawsuits in New Jersey
-457 race-based cases
-306 national origin
Of course, as the law states above, there are many other protections that may result in an unemployment lawsuit. Last year, New Jersey passed a law banning discrimination against the unemployed. However, sexual harassment remains the most commonly filed.
As we reported recently, New Jersey has paid millions to settle sexual harassment claims against state employers, including many supervisors who remain on the job. In fact, nearly $4 million has been paid to settle 27 sexual-harassment lawsuits in recent years.
New Jersey also just passed the Equal Pay Act, which is meant to address some of the gender inequality remaining in the workplace. Signed Sept. 21, the law requires employers to provide workers with a written copy of such rights. Simply posting those rights will no longer be considered sufficient.
What this means, for women in the workforce in particular, is that vigilance can ensure that you are being paid and treated fairly in the workforce. While we've come a long way in promoting equal pay for equal work, there is much work yet to be done. And those who are treated unfairly in the workforce based on gender should seek an experienced employment law attorney in Roseland or elsewhere to help protect their rights.
If you need to speak to an employment law attorney in New Jersey or New York, contact the Resnick Law Group at 973-781-1204 or 646-867-7997.
Sexual Harassment Costs New Jersey Millions - Many Offenders Remain on the Job, by Resnick Law Group, P.C., Oct. 10, 2012.