If you believe that you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, you may have legal rights. This refers to conduct of a sexual nature that occurs between co-workers or to unwanted sexual advances at work. Often, these types of actions interfere with your ability to perform your job duties and create work environments that are hostile, intimidating, or offensive. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler understand that sexual harassment can seriously impact victims and work to help their clients to ensure that those who are responsible face consequences for their actions.
Potential consequences for people who sexually harass co-workers
Sexual harassment at work is prohibited as a type of gender discrimination under both the anti-discrimination laws of New Jersey and of the federal government. If sexual harassment is reported, the harasser can suffer a number of consequences such as being reprimanded, demoted, or fired. If the harasser’s actions were serious enough to constitute sexual assault, the harasser may also be criminally prosecuted.
- Disciplinary Actions: Organizations with a robust HR framework often take swift action against employees found guilty of sexual harassment. This can range from written warnings and mandatory counseling to suspension without pay.
- Termination of Employment: In severe cases, the guilty party might face immediate termination from their job. This not only affects their present employment but can mar their future prospects, making it challenging to find similar positions elsewhere.
- Legal Repercussions: Federal and state laws in places like New Jersey prohibit workplace sexual harassment, categorizing it under gender discrimination. Violators can be subject to lawsuits, resulting in heavy penalties, compensations, or even jail time in cases of sexual assault.
Potential consequences for employers
Employers that receive reports of sexual harassment and that fail to take appropriate action or that ignore the complaints may also face consequences. Workplace sexual harassment victims may file sexual harassment and discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.
If the sexual harassment charge is found to be valid, an issue might be ordered that requires the employer to make a policy change and to pay damages. A civil lawsuit might also be filed through which the employer may be forced to pay substantial monetary damages. Finally, media coverage of the sexual harassment claim could lead to reputational harm for the company.
- Liability: If an employer is aware of the harassment and does not act to prevent or stop it, they can be held legally accountable. This can lead to the company paying substantial fines or settlements.
- Reputation Damage: In the era of social media and instant news, a company’s reputation can be tarnished overnight. News of mishandling a sexual harassment case can lead to loss of customers, partners, and potential top-tier talent.
- Decreased Productivity: A hostile work environment can reduce overall productivity, with employees feeling unsafe or demotivated to work efficiently.
- Policy Revision: In the event of a validated sexual harassment charge, companies might be required to amend their workplace policies and conduct mandatory training sessions for all employees.
Consequences that the victims might face
When victims of sexual harassment report what happened to them, they may face consequences despite the fact that retaliation is illegal. These consequences might include the following:
- Retaliation: Victims might face undue repercussions such as unjustified termination, demotion, or salary reductions.
- Workplace Alienation: Victims might feel ostracized or isolated from their peers, leading to emotional and psychological distress.
- Career Setbacks: Reporting harassment might, in some cases, impact the victim’s future prospects within the company, like being passed over for promotions.
- Emotional Toll: Beyond the tangible repercussions, victims often grapple with emotional and psychological trauma, which can affect their personal lives and overall well-being.
If you reported sexual harassment at your work and you suffered any of these types of retaliatory actions, you may have a separate claim for retaliation against your employer despite what happens to your sexual harassment claim.
Contact the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler
Victims of workplace harassment deserve justice and a safe space to work. At Swartz Swidler, we passionately advocate for those subjected to such misconduct. Our experienced team of attorneys provides valuable insights, ensuring that you are aware of your rights and the potential pathways forward. Don’t suffer in silence; reach out to us today for a free consultation.
The attorneys at Swartz Swidler are strong advocates for people who have suffered sexual harassment at the workplace. We are able to advise you of the rights that you might have and the steps that you should take next. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.