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How must schools address hostile work environments?

A hostile work environment can make it impossible for almost any employee to feel safe and work effectively. This is true in any industry, and it's also true in the New Jersey school system. Under the current laws and regulations, schools have to do the following things to combat harassment and get rid of hostile work environments.

First, the school districts are required to have harassment policies that are well known and widely publicized. No employee should have to wonder about his or her rights.

On top of that, employees at the school have to be told that they have a right to file a complaint when needed, and they have to be told what process to follow to do so. They should also be informed that it's important to make their reports and complaints promptly when this type of thing does happen.

The administrators at the school, along with any supervisors, have to be trained so that they know how to respond when someone complains about harassment. They need to know what to do to process the complaints and even report them to the proper authorities, if necessary. They need to know exactly what harassment looks like and what really constitutes this type of illegal behavior.

This is especially important for administrators since those in positions of power have sometimes been known to use those positions to get away with harassment. Complaints made to one supervisor could be made regarding another person in a similar position, but they must be handled professionally.

If you're in a hostile work environment, make sure that you understand how your rights work and what legal action you can take.

Source: New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, "Hostile Work Environment - Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination," Wayne J. Oppito, accessed July 03, 2015

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