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NJ Supreme Court Finds No Sexual Harassment for Repeated Requests for Dates

NJ Supreme Court Finds No Sexual Harassment for Repeated Requests for Dates
10 Oct 2008 Uncategorized

NJ Supreme Court Finds No Sexual Harassment for Repeated Requests for Dates

Despite the recent trend of pro-employee sexual harassment hostile work environment decisions, the NJ Supreme Court held, in Godfrey v. Princeton Theological Seminary, 2008 WL 2951891, two female seminary students were not subjected to sexual harassment hostile work environment where a 60 year old resident made repeated requests to both women for a date. Importantly, the alleged harasser’s conduct involved no sexual language, no touching, no inappropriate or offensive comments, and no lewd suggestions.

In its ruling, the Court held “Persons who are socially tone deaf are not, by that characteristic, necessarily the equivalent of sexual harassers. It is important in that regard that neither of these women used her own authority to tell Miller [the alleged harasser] to ‘go away.’ They cannot rely on the prospect of a money damages award from the Seminary to replace their own obligation to simply tell Miller that they had no interest in him romantically or even as a casual acquaintance.”

This case marks a significant victory for employers and re-establishes the factors necessary to prove a claim of sexual harassment under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. It also reaffirms an employee’s obligations to report the alleged harassment and allow the employer an opportunity to remedy the alleged claims.

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