Workplace Harassment in New Jersey: Is It Illegal?

When employees suffer mistreatment and verbal abuse at work, it might be illegal harassment.

Some employees experience workplace harassment by being humiliated and verbally abused at work.  

However, only certain types of abuse are considered illegal workplace harassment pursuant to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Abuse is illegal in New Jersey only when it is based on a characteristic protected by the Law Against Discrimination, such as sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, national origin, marital status, gender identity, or ancestry. Harassment in the workplace that is not based on one of these protected characteristics is unfair and hurtful, but it is probably not illegal.

The New Jersey Healthy Workplace Act would change this. The Healthy Workplace Act is a bill under consideration by the New Jersey Legislature. Among other things it would outlaw workplace abuse and bullying generally, not just when it is based on a protected characteristic. Unless and until this bill is passed, however, the "bully boss" is free to abuse subordinates for any reason that isn't currently protected by law.  

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