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Understanding retaliation in sexual harassment lawsuits

New Jersey has taken significant steps to ensure that employees do not have to endure sexual harassment at their workplaces. Sexual harassment is generally understood as any unwanted attention that is sexual in nature. In some cases, sexual harassment is obvious. Unwanted touching, the posting of sexually explicit material and even repeated offers to go out on dates are all examples of sexually harassing behavior.

Many victims of sexual harassment are aware that their abusers are doing something wrong. However, many of those victims choose to suffer the harassment quietly due to fears of retaliatory action. Depending on the circumstances, many victims feel as though notifying their superiors may actually worsen their present conditions and stifle their career progression.

A recent case in Bridgeton, New Jersey, provides a good example of that type of situation. In that case, five city employees filed a lawsuit against a pair of twin brothers alleging sexual harassment and retaliation. The women say that one of the brothers committed at least 70 separate acts of harassment against them over a period of five years in his capacity as a police officer for the city. The women claim that after they finally reported the harassment to their superiors, the police department suspended the officer without pay. The officer’s twin brother, also a cop, then allegedly retaliated against the women after his brother’s suspension.

The reason why this can be important for you is because New Jersey has specific laws that prohibit retaliation against employees for disclosing unlawful activities to their supervisors. In fact, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act allows for the reinstatement of employees who are fired or demoted as a result of their disclosures. Employees who have been retaliated against are also entitled to recover lost wages and other benefits they may have lost as a result of the retaliation.

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, it is important for you to know that every case is unique. Even cases that include obvious examples of sexually harassing behavior may be difficult to prove in court. Retaliation for reporting those actions can sometimes be even more difficult to establish. An attorney experienced in New Jersey’s employment rights laws can review the particular circumstances of your case and determine whether you should move forward with a civil lawsuit.

Source: Institutional Review Board-State of New Jersey, “Conscientious Employee Protection Act,” accessed July 08, 2015



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