Despite many advances in the past few decades, workplace sexual harassment remains a pervasive problem throughout the country. New Jersey employment law considers sexual harassment to be a form of sex discrimination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 views sexual harassment the same way. A recent lawsuit by a New Jersey train conductor alleges extensive sexual harassment and other forms of offensive conduct. It is one of many such lawsuits and complaints brought in recent years against the state’s public transportation system.
The NJLAD and Title VII prohibit employment discrimination based on sex and various other factors. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson in 1986. New Jersey courts have generally followed federal courts’ interpretation of employment discrimination laws concerning sexual harassment.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which has the authority to investigate discrimination complaints under Title VII, identifies two general categories of unlawful sexual harassment:
– Quid pro quo sexual harassment: Agreeing to some sort of sexual demand is a condition of employment.
– Hostile work environment: Unwelcome sexual behavior at work is so “severe or pervasive” that it interferes with an individual’s ability to do their job.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit described above has worked for the defendant for about fifteen years. She claims that an engineer began sexually harassing her in 2022. The alleged conduct began as unwelcome sexual remarks, but the plaintiff claims that it escalated to the point of sexual assault. She filed multiple complaints but states in the lawsuit that none of them went anywhere. She alleges that she was eventually moved to a different job assignment as a result. She filed her lawsuit in early October 2023 in Essex County Superior Court.
The lawsuit is one of many filed against the defendant in recent years alleging various forms of sexual harassment. In August 2023, a bus maintenance cleaner filed a lawsuit in Essex County claiming that the defendant allowed a “graphically sexual and racially hostile work environment” to persist. The alleged sexual conduct included ongoing sexual remarks, unsolicited text messages with explicit images, and an act of physical assault allegedly in retaliation for filing a complaint.
Other recent sexual harassment lawsuits against the defendant include:
– Six bus drivers who claimed that the defendant failed to take action against a passenger who routinely committed obscene acts in their vehicles;
– A former bus driver who claimed that a supervisor demanded sexual activity in exchange for not reporting an accident involving her bus;
– Four bus drivers who alleged that a supervisor “sexually harassed, stalked and in some cases assaulted them for years”; and
– A maintenance cleaner who alleges that the defendant failed to protect her from a foreman’s sexual harassment and assault.
Sexual harassment in New Jersey workplaces violates state and federal employment statutes. If you have experienced sexual harassment on the job, a skilled legal advocate can help you assert your rights and recover the damages owed to you. The experienced employment lawyers at the Resnick Law Group represent workers in New Jersey and New York in a wide range of claims. To schedule a confidential consultation to see how we can assist you, please contact us today online, at 973-781-1204, or at 646-867-7997.