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New Jersey government worker sues county, boss for harassment

New Jersey employees know from the time of hiring what rules apply in a workplace and penalties for breaking those rules. Business cultures dictate how employees behave, but employers also have rules to follow about the way they treat employees.

Federal and state laws require employers to curb harassment and deal fairly with any worker complaints. Unfortunately, some Bergen County employers are the source of the problem rather than the solution.

A Gloucester County employee claims he is a victim of a hostile work environment. The man was hired in 2006 to work in the county's buildings and grounds maintenance division. Within a year, he was promoted to a Mosquito Control Unit.

The new supervisor allegedly forced the worker to take on jobs above the employee's designated title, without promotion. Last year, the worker applied for and received intermittent time off to deal with a health problem, under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.

The lawsuit claims the supervisor, named as a defendant, then ordered the employee to work overtime. The complaint said the department supervisor and other managers began scrutinizing more than 1,300 entries the worker made. The supervisors found about a dozen "insignificant" mistakes, which were called purposeful and insubordinate.

The worker said the supervisors "berated" him over the errors. Shortly after, the county ordered the worker to a three-day suspension. The lawsuit followed. Damages sought include compensation for emotional and physical suffering that led the employee to seek health care treatment.

When workers resign over alleged employer harassment, they must prove to a court that a hostile work environment forced them out of a job. The employee must make a concerted attempt to resolve the problem, not just walk out the door. Before making a decision about damages, a civil court will determine whether quitting work was "reasonable," compared to what most other employees would do in the same situation.


Source: 
nj.com, "Gloucester County employee's lawsuit alleges workplace discrimination, harassment" Carly Q. Romalino, Nov. 14, 2013

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