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Low-wage workers specifically need protections

When it comes to sexual harassment in New Jersey, all workers need some form of protection. However, low-wage workers may need even more than high-wage workers, according to some sources.

The problem is that a case known as Vance v. Ball State University ended up before the Supreme Court, which said that a low-level supervisor who could not hire or fire an employee wasn't really a supervisor at all, but a coworker. Many low-wage workers are technically under these supervisors in the workplace--the line workers at a fast food joint, for example.

Now, as those who have worked in these positions know, these immediate supervisors can still have a lot of power. They may be able to get employees fired--even if they don't do it themselves--and they may have influence over the schedule. An employee may not be fired, but he or she could see hours cut drastically. These supervisors could also give the employee unwanted jobs and tasks during the day.

In short, though these supervisors are legally thought of as co-workers, they play a bigger role than that, and employees may be afraid to report them when they are being sexually harassed. No matter what the Supreme Court says about the relationship, if it keeps the employee from taking necessarily action, that could be a problem.

It's crucial for all employees to know their rights, at any pay level, but low-wage workers in particular must know what protections they have. If you are being harassed or discriminated against, look into your legal options and do not stay silent when the law is broken.

Source: National Women's Law Center, "Reality Check: Seventeen Million Reasons Low-Wage Workers Need Strong Protections From Harassment," accessed June 14, 2016

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