In New Jersey, state and federal laws protect workers from sexual harassment. This is not a new development. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sex discrimination. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and has been prohibited for more than half a century. Unfortunately, 50 years does not seem to be long enough for many employers to get the message. Sexual harassment is still a leading cause of action pursued against employers all over the country.
Rather than adapting to minimum standards of decency, may perpetrators seek to put the blame on the victims. Workers are discouraged from reporting sexual harassment in obvious and subtle ways. Countless employees are pressured into quitting or into quietly tolerating outrageous behavior because they don’t feel like they can assert their rights. For far too long, the pressure has remained entirely, or at least primarily, on the victims of sexual harassment.
Employers have the power to make sexual harassment far less common than it is today. If companies took the proper steps to prevent sexual harassment, many workers would find their lives improved immeasurably. For now, many workers can only dream of the day when they don’t have to report to a hostile work environment. They dream of a workplace where they aren’t subjected to unwanted touching, sexual advances, sexual jokes, comments about their appearance and other inappropriate conduct. That dream will only become a reality when employers make it clear that sexual harassment will be dealt with swiftly and harshly.
In the meantime, employees who are subjected to harassing behavior should be encouraged to assert their rights. You are not at fault for wanting to work in an environment free from sexual harassment. You are not at fault for wanting your co-workers, managers and company owners to conduct themselves properly, in accordance with the law. It is not easy to work under these conditions. Likewise, it is not easy to stand up and demand justice. If you choose to do so, just know that there are people who will support you.