Underperforming Workers Have Rights, Too

A new ruling from an East Coast court might cement the ability of workers to expose a hostile work environment even if the employee demonstrates less than stellar job performance. The ruling, which could impact nationwide courts including those in California, will allow the 42—year–old New Jersey woman to bring her claim against her former employer. The woman said she was fired from her job at a financial services company after she complained about sexual harassment.

The federal appeals court approved the woman’s request to have her case heard by a jury. The woman is seeking $5 million in connection with the hostile work environment case.

Experts say the new ruling is a win for employee rights, largely because supervisors can exploit employees’ shortcomings, shaming them into silence about potential sexual harassment. Instead of working with the woman to improve her job performance, it appears that her supervisors were content to perpetuate a hostile workplace. The woman claims that the financial services group was run like a “boys’ club,” in which she was the target of sexually suggestive comments. She was also openly propositioned for sex. Male workers obviously viewed pornography, she claims, and they often stated their vulgar opinions about their female coworkers’ appearances.

The appeals court found that the lower court judge should not have thrown out the case simply because of the infrequency of the sexual advances; the original court claimed that the sporadic nature of the harassment did not constitute actual hostility.

Legal officials say the decision is sure to have wide–reaching impact, after the courts demonstrated the importance of all employees’ rights. Even if a worker is underperforming, he or she does not deserve to be subject to a hostile environment. If you feel as though you have been harassed in the workplace, consider enlisting the services of a qualified employment attorney. Legal teams can help you get the money you deserve for your professional and personal suffering.

Source: nj.com, “Hoboken woman???s sex suit can be heard by jury: judge” No author given, Apr. 29, 2013