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Court Adopts New Test in Harassment Cases

Professionals strive to maintain safe and welcoming workplaces for employees and guests. To further this goal, many firms have incorporated into their employment manuals anti-harassment policies and training. Yet, despite such precautionary steps, an employer cannot guarantee an environment free of wrongdoers. In the unfortunate event of a claim, it is up to the court to determine whether an employer that took proactive measures to protect employees is nonetheless liable in employment related harassment claims.

How to Comply with the New Jersey ‘Ban the Box’ Law

In New Jersey, The Opportunity to Compete Act, otherwise known as the “Ban the Box” bill, restricting employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal background during the initial stages of the application process, became effective March 1, 2015. (For more information, see our article, New Jersey Governor Christie Signs ‘Ban the Box’ Legislation.)

New Jersey "Ban the Box" Regulations Are on the Way

On February 25, 2015, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) published draft proposed regulations to implement the New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act, otherwise known as the “ban the box” law. The Act, which restricts when in the hiring process an employer may obtain criminal history information from an applicant (and which is discussed in depth in our FAQs), goes into effect on March 1, 2015. The draft proposed regulations (to be formally proposed by publication in the March 16, 2015 issue of the New Jersey Register) include the following notable clarifications:

New Jersey's "Ban the Box" Law Takes Effect March 1, 2015

Executive Summary: The New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act (the "Act"), known as the "Ban the Box" law, will go into effect on March 1, 2015. The Act prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant's criminal background during the initial employment application process. Employers should ensure that their applications and hiring processes are in compliance with the Act before it takes effect next month.

New Jersey Supreme Court Provides Guidance to Employers Defending Against Certain Supervisory Harassment Claims

On February 11, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court for the first time directly addressed and adopted the standard set forth in the U.S. Supreme Court's 1998 decisions in Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth1 and Faragher v. City of Boca Raton2 regarding employer liability for a supervisor's harassment. In Aguas v. State of New Jersey, the court held that an employer can defend against a claim of supervisory harassment that did not result in a tangible employment action by showing (a) it had strong anti-harassment policies and reporting procedures in place and (b) the plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of those policies and procedures. The court's ruling in this case not only provides an invaluable defense to New Jersey employers, but also serves to emphasize the importance of implementing and adhering to effective anti-harassment policies and procedures that comply with the requirements set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court.

New Jersey High Court: Employer Anti-Harassment Policy is Defense Against State Law Claims of Supervisor Sexual Harassment

The New Jersey Supreme Court has endorsed an employer's right to assert its effective anti-harassment policies and remedial measures as an affirmative defense in opposition to New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ("LAD") claims of hostile work environment sexual harassment based on the conduct of a supervisor. Ilda Aguas v. State of New Jersey, No. A-35-13 (N.J. Sup. Ct. Feb. 11, 2015).

New Jersey Set to "Ban the Box" Beginning on March 1, 2015

On March 1, 2015, New Jersey will become the latest state to “ban the box” by prohibiting employers from inquiring into a job applicant’s criminal background during the initial stages of the hiring process.

New Jersey eAuthority (February 2015)

New Jersey Supreme Court Reshapes Sexual Harassment Claims; Employer Free to Monitor Employee’s Internet Browsing History, New Jersey Appellate Division Holds; Expert Medical Evidence Is Required to Prove Accommodations Offered Were Not Reasonable, New Jersey Appellate Division Holds; Legal Protections and Remedies for New Jersey Interns Are on the Horizon.

Boon to New Jersey Employers: State Supreme Court Confirms that Federal Faragher/Ellerth "Affirmative Defense" Now Applies to Sexual Harassment Claims Under State Law

Executive Summary: On February 11, 2015, New Jersey's Supreme Court formally decided an important issue left open for nearly two decades concerning New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination (LAD). In Aguas v. State of New Jersey, __ N.J. __, No. 072467 (2015), the state's highest court definitively held that an employer can rely upon the company's anti-harassment policy as an "affirmative defense" to an employee's claims of negligence or vicarious liability brought under the LAD. In doing so, the Court aligns the standard for employer liability under the LAD with that set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in its landmark 1998 decisions, Faragher v. City of Boca Raton and Burlington Indus. v. Ellerth. A copy of the decision is available here.

New Jersey's Ban the Box Law: FAQs for Employers

The New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act, better known as “Ban the Box,” will go into effect in less than a month, making this a great time for employers to review their employment applications and hiring procedures to ensure that they will be in compliance with the new law. The following Frequently Asked Questions will help employers get up to speed on the law’s requirements.