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Illegal workplace harassment and employee rights

There are many forms of workplace harassment about which both New Jersey employees and their employers need to be aware. When people are harassed at work based upon their protected status, their employers may be held to be civilly liable if they do not take the appropriate steps to quickly correct the problem.

Harassment may take many forms and be based on sex, race, disability, national origin or religion. Harassment may involve offensive slurs, sexual language, advances, jokes and other unwelcome behaviors. When such harassment does occur at work, the employee is legally allowed to complain about it as prescribed by the employment manual.

If a complaint is filed at work regarding harassment, the employer then is legally obligated to investigate it and act in a way that prevents it from continuing to occur. If it fails in that duty, the employee may then file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency tasked with investigating violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in workplaces that have 15 or more employees. Employers may also get into trouble if they retaliate against an employee for filing either internally or to the EEOC.

When a person rightfully complains to management regarding harassment and the employer reacts with a wrongful termination, the person may be able to file a claim about both the harassment as well as the retaliation with the EEOC. An employment law attorney can often assist in the preparation and filing of the claim. There are strict time limits that the attorney can explain.

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