Arbitrator Recommends $4.5 Million Award for Sexual Harassment of Former Long Branch School District Worker

file000608292008 morguefile username dave.jpgIn early August, an arbitrator awarded a former Long Branch School District worker $4.5 million. In a 2011 civil complaint filed against the school district and prior Superintendent Joseph Ferraina, the former secretary alleged that she was sexually assaulted by and forced to perform sex acts for Ferraina beginning in 2004. The woman also stated Ferraina threatened her with termination if she reported the abuse. According to the former secretary, the school board ignored her complaints regarding the allegedly hostile work environment and instead engaged in a cover-up. Eventually, the woman apparently suffered a nervous breakdown. Ferraina retired from his position at the end of June.

Following a non-binding arbitral hearing, a former Monmouth County judge who acted as arbitrator in the case found in favor of the former secretary. Still, either side of the case may disagree with the arbitrator’s recommendation and file a “trial de novo” before 30 days pass. By doing so, the non-binding arbitral decision would be rendered moot.

As this case shows, one type of sexual harassment is quid pro quo sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment may arise when a supervisor conditions a worker’s employment upon his or her submission to sexual advances or demands. As allegedly occurred here, an employee may have a claim for quid pro quo sexual harassment if a supervisor makes him or her feel as if sexual advances must be tolerated in order to keep a job, obtain a raise, be promoted, or to avoid discipline, a demotion, or other negative work-related consequences.

No one should be forced to endure the stress and indignity of inappropriate sexual conduct in the workplace. Employers in New Jersey and New York are required to provide all workers, regardless of gender, with a workplace environment that is free from sexual and other unlawful harassment. An employer’s failure to address employee behavior that violates sexual harassment policies can expose a company to potentially costly lawsuits and place other workers at risk for mistreatment.

The majority of employment law complaints filed in New Jersey involve sexual harassment or sex discrimination. According to information from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were more than 600 sexual harassment or discrimination cases filed in New Jersey in 2011. The number of sexual harassment claims filed in the State of New Jersey has reportedly increased by around 10 percent since 2006. During the same time frame, the number of sex harassment complaints filed across the nation as a whole dropped by about 5.5 percent. If you suffered unlawful sexual harassment or discrimination at work, you are advised to discuss your rights with a quality New Jersey or New York employment attorney.

The knowledgeable employment lawyers at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former employees in both New Jersey and New York with legal matters that involve workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. To discuss your situation with a hardworking advocate, contact the Resnick Law Group through our website or give us a call at 973-781-1204 or 646-867-7997 today.

More Blog Posts:

Paramus Party Company Settles Sexual Harassment Case Filed on Behalf of Terminated Teen Worker, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, August 20, 2013
EEOC Settlement Reminds Employers in New Jersey and Across U.S. to Refrain from Unlawful Religious Discrimination, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, August 20, 2013
Additional Resources:

Report: Long Branch schools, ex-superintendent told to pay $4.5M for sexual harassment claim, by Rob Spahr, nj.com

Long Branch schools superintendent Joseph M. Ferraina faces disturbing sex allegations, by Alicia Cruz, New Jersey Newsroom

Photo credit: dave, morgueFile

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