New Jersey has laws regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, just like other states. However, when it comes to the state government, there is not much protection in place for those who are vulnerable, or scrutiny of state employees with a history of harassment.
This fact came to light in the recent challenge to Albert J. Alvarez, named chief of staff at the state’s Schools Development Authority by Gov. Phil Murphy’s transition team last November. Alvarez was accused of harassing a campaign worker in the spring of 2017. The transition team was aware of the complaint but chose to hire Alvarez anyway. Alvarez was not asked about the complaints against him. There is no law or rule in state government requiring that such questions be asked.
The Truth is Revealed
It was only when a reporter pressed Alvarez on the matter that it became public, leading to Alvarez’s resignation this past April. Even then, Alvarez remained in his position until October, when he stepped down. Two values came into conflict in the Alvarez case. One is that workers should be protected against unwelcome advances. The other is that elected officials should be free to hire whoever they want.
The Alvarez case is not an isolated instance. He was the second state employee in the past month alone to resign under a cloud. Many observers were surprised to learn there is no requirement to ask candidates for positions in the administration about complaints made against them.
The Private Sector Understands
The business world is way ahead of the state of New Jersey. This is because they want their workforce to feel safe, want to attract and retain talented people, and they do not want to be sued for allowing sexual harassment of workers. In a corporate setting, accusations like the one against Alvarez would be dealt with. Businesses know they cannot harbor an employee charged with such an offense or look the other way and feign ignorance.
What Happens Next
Legislators are asking why the state’s anti-harassment policy does not extend to the state government as well. The truth is that it should not matter who your employers are. If you work for a business or if you work for the state or federal government, you should be protected under the law by sexual harassment, which can include the following:
- Coerced sexual behavior
- Unwelcome touching
- Unwanted sexual or romantic attention
- Lewd remarks, nicknames, or insults
- Sexual come-ons
- Leering, whistling, or suggestive gestures
- Displaying or transmitting pornographic images or text
South Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Victims of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
If you have been targeted for any of these unwanted behaviors, call the South Jersey sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to arrange a free case review. We have the experience and passion for justice to press your complaint against offenders and obtain the necessary accommodations. Our office is in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and we proudly represent clients throughout the region, including Cherry Hill and throughout South Jersey.