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Defending Sexual Harassment Claims Against Employers

Mar 10, 2015 | Written by: Deborah B. Rosenthal, Esq. |

On Feb. 11, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued Aguas v. New Jersey, a case that has significant implications for employers in sexual harassment cases, and raised the bar on what a Plaintiff needs to demonstrate to win the case against his or her employer. 

The Court said that the employer can properly defend a sexual harassment claim by demonstrating that it “exercised reasonable care” to prevent and correct promptly any sexually harassing behavior by a supervisor, or that the employee “unreasonably failed to take advantage of the preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer”.  

This case can be referenced by employers in the following situations:

  1. If an employee reports sexually harassing behavior and the employer promptly responds to investigate the complaint and correct the wrongful activity as appropriate;
  2. When the employer provides proper training of all supervisors and employees;
  3. When the employer has complete and thorough policies prohibiting sexually harassing conduct and advising what employees should do if they believe they have been harassed;
  4. When the employer has proper preventive or corrective opportunities in place but the employee fails to take advantage of them.

For suggestions and recommendations regarding training on sexual harassment, developing proper policies prohibiting this type of behavior, or investigating complaints of harassment, contact Deborah Rosenthal, Esq. at Gebhardt & Kiefer, PC.