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Articles Tagged with Sexual harassment

Rumored affair can be sexual harassment in New JerseyA recent opinion by New Jersey’s Appellate Division recognizes that false rumors of a sexual relationship between a female employee and a male superior can create a legally actionable hostile work environment.

Jennifer Schiavone is a senior corrections officer for the New Jersey Department of Corrections (“DOC”).  In 2013, the DOC assigned Officer Schiavone to work in the Central Control Unit (“Central Control”), which is a desirable job because it does not involve direct contact with inmates.

Shortly after the DOC transferred Officer Schiavone to Central Control, rumors began to spread that she was having an extra-marital affair with a high-level DOC official, “S.D.”  Even though Officer Schiavone denied that she was having an affair with S.D., their supposed relationship became the subject of nearly daily conversation at work.  For example, on one occasion Officer Julie Houseworth asked Officer Schiavone if she planned to “blow” S.D.  Another time, Lieutenant Zsuzsanna Rogoshewski said: “That’s her over there, that’s who’s sleeping with the [high-ranking official],” referring to Officer Schiavone and S.D.

Sexual harassment at workA recent unpublished opinion from the New Jersey Appellate Division holds that employees cannot waive in advance their right to recover punitive damages under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”).

Milagros Roman worked for Bergen Logistics LLC as a human resources generalist. She claims that her immediate boss, Human Resources Director Gregg Oliver, made sexual advances toward her.  She further alleges that Mr. Oliver retaliated against her by firing her because she complained about the sexual harassment.

Ms. Roman filed a lawsuit against Bergen and Mr. Oliver, claiming they harassed and retaliated against her in violation of the LAD.  The defendants filed a motion to dismiss her case and refer it to arbitration.  They relied on the fact that when Bergen hired Ms. Roman, she signed an arbitration agreement that required her to resolve any disputes relating to her employment relationship in binding arbitration rather than in court.  That agreement includes a provision which states that: “BY SIGNING THIS AGREEMENT YOU AND COMPANY ARE WAIVING ANY RIGHT, STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, TO A TRIAL BY JURY AND TO PUNITIVE AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES.”