Discrimination and Harassment Cases: Taking a Proactive Approach
Accusations of harassment or discrimination in the workplace can have a chilling effect on productivity and could threaten your company’s ability to compete within your chosen industry. At the Di Lauri & Hewitt Law Group, we offer practical options that can protect your organization against unfounded complaints and can achieve the best outcomes for these cases. Understanding the regulations and requirements established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is critical to ensure that your company stays in compliance with these rules.
Understanding the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
As an employer, you are prohibited from discriminating against your employees because of race, religion, color, age, ancestry, national origin, nationality, marital status, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, military service or medical and physical conditions that include but are not limited to the following:
• Hereditary and genetic diseases
• Disabilities, including mental and physical conditions
• AIDS and HIV-related illnesses
All of these categories constitute protected classes in the state of New Jersey that are protected against employment discrimination, including discrimination that occurs during the hiring process. This does not preclude you from enforcing certain physical requirements, including the ability to lift a specific amount of weight or to run for a set amount of time, if those requirements are related to the type of work to be performed.
• For instance, a firefighter must be able to climb ladders, run over short distances and carry heavy weights to perform his or her duties. Establishing physical requirements that are not directly linked to gender would be acceptable for these types of jobs.
• By contrast, height requirements for these jobs could potentially weed out people of certain nationalities or of the female gender. These requirements could potentially be seen as discriminatory and could create potential liability for your company under EEOC regulations.
The Di Lauri & Hewitt Law Group can provide your company or organization with proactive help in staying on the right side of EEOC regulations and preventing discrimination within your workplace. With our help, you can create hiring practices that are in line with EEOC requirements and that prevent discrimination against protected classes in the state of New Jersey.
Preventing Harassment in the Workplace
EEOC rules also protect employees against sexual harassment by other workers or by employers based on any of these protected characteristics, including gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race or age. Harassment is usually divided into two specific categories:
• Hostile work environment harassment takes place when a worker is targeted by other employees or managers because of his or her gender, race, religion, disability or other protected characteristics. This may or may not be sexual in nature. In some cases, verbal abuse, offensive jokes and repeated comments may be adequate to establish the presence of a hostile work environment and to justify intervention by the EEOC on behalf of the employees mistreated in this manner.
• Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employer or manager requires acquiescence to sexual demands to obtain employment or as a condition of continued employment. The pressure to submit to quid pro quo harassment could be applied through poor performance reviews and demotions or by promises of promotions and pay increases.
Allegations of harassment in the workplace can be devastating to companies in the state of New Jersey. At the Di Lauri & Hewitt Law Group, we go above and beyond to provide you with the aggressive defense representation your company needs to protect itself against these complaints and to avoid issues with the EEOC in the future.
Providing Adequate Accommodations
Another facet of EEOC regulations is the requirement for New Jersey employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled individuals. These accommodations may require a considerable financial outlay. If the costs of these accommodations do not represent an undue hardship on your company, however, you may still be required to provide these adjustments to ensure full compliance with federal and state laws.
On both the federal and the state level, courts have found that lack of information about an individual’s disability does not serve as a defense against charges of failure to make these accommodations. Requesting information about disabilities, however, can be difficult from a legal standpoint. At Di Lauri & Hewitt Law Group, we will work with you to determine the right approach and to help you to make the appropriate accommodations.
The Di Lauri & Hewitt Law Group can provide you with assertive and effective defense representation before EEOC and other equal employment opportunity agencies. This can provide you with added confidence when allegations of discrimination or harassment are made against your company. We also work with you to establish proactive policies that provide added protection against these claims before they occur.
If you need proven support and practical approaches to protect your business and your operations, call the Di Lauri & Hewitt Law Group today at (973) 343-5736. We will put our experience and knowledge to work on behalf of your company to prevent most EEOC claims and to defend your reputation when and if they occur.