An employee of the town of Morristown, New Jersey, has filed a civil suit against the town, a zoning officer and any the town's agents who knew about or should have known about the zoning officer's unlawful behavior and failed to protect the female employee. The employee's lawsuit claims from 2009 on the employee was subjected to a "pattern of stalking, sexual harassment and retaliation" for rejecting the man's advances.
The employee claims she was first sexually harassed by the zoning officer on October 1st after receiving a harassing voicemail from the man. She filed a police report in the matter. The zoning officer was suspended without pay while an internal investigation was conducted by the town, according to the town's mayor. The zoning officer requested an administrative hearing on the matter, which must take place within 30 days.
The employee claims she received another harassing voicemail on November 17th, after the police report was filed and the officer was told to stop harassing or contacting the employee. The town's administrator did not return a call requesting information on the zoning officer's current employment status with the town. He has worked for the town for almost 25 years and reportedly makes more than $83,000 per year.
The female employee's tort claim holds the town and its relevant agents responsible for negligent hiring, negligent supervision and retention of an employee, the intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy and assault. The female employee is still suffering emotional distress, psychological injury and pain and suffering, according to her claim.
An attorney for the zoning officer told local media the matter had been referred Morristown's insurance company for review. Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal and it is the employer's responsibility to stop the harassment and protect the rights of its employees. When an employer fails to respond or responds inappropriately, such as retaliating against the employee who files the complaint, it too can be held liable for damages.
Source: NJ.com, "Morristown employee: Zoning officer harassed me, even after I went to police," Louis C. Hochman, Jan. 4, 2013
Our Essex County, New Jersey, law firm handles employment law issues, including sexual harassment claims similar to the story discussed in the above lawsuit.