Harassment and other forms of discrimination in the workplace can be overt or subtle. Sometimes, they are so subtle that victims and others in the workplace do not realize they are happening. But when discrimination occurs, everybody in the workplace suffers. It does not matter whether the discrimination is based on the victim’s age, race, sex, or sexual orientation – a workplace where harassment occurs is a hostile work environment, which is not healthy for anybody.
In New Jersey, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity are Protected Classes
Sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In states that do not specify these as protected classes, it is legal to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is not the case in New Jersey. In New Jersey, if you face any type of discrimination because of your LGBTQ status, you have the right to file a discrimination claim to seek compensation for your resulting financial damages.
Examples of LGBTQ Harassment in the Workplace
Harassment generally involves pervasive exposure to derogatory remarks, intrusive questions, slurs, and images and text that makes the victim uncomfortable.
Examples of LGBTQ workplace harassment include:
- Targeting individuals with derogatory names due to their actual or assumed sexual orientations;
- Asking colleagues inappropriate questions about their sex lives, sexual preferences, and relationships;
- Sending inappropriate emails, messages, or images to LGBTQ individuals; and
- Refusing to acknowledge an individual’s preferred pronouns with the intention or causing him or her distress. This is known as misgendering an individual.
It is important to note that sexual harassment can affect LGBTQ employees just as easily as it can affect heterosexual employees. Sexual harassment, whether it is part of a hostile work environment or a quid pro quo situation, can be committed by anybody, toward anybody regardless of either party’s sex or gender identity.
What to Do if you Face Harassment in your Workplace
Work with an experienced employment lawyer to file a discrimination claim with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR). This division has a working relationship with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You will need to support your claim with evidence showing that the harassment occurred and that it was frequent enough to cause you to suffer financial damages. Evidence to use can consist of printed emails, meeting notes, and your record of verbal harassment in the workplace.
Work with an Experienced New Jersey Harassment Lawyer
Harassment in the workplace is never acceptable. If you have faced harassment because of your gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other protected class such as your sex, race, religion, or national origin, you could have grounds for a workplace discrimination claim. Contact our team of employment lawyers at The Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP today to set up your initial consultation with us. We are one of New Jersey and New York’s premier employment law firms and have secured millions of dollars in compensation for our clients.