Written by Ravi Sattiraju on November 5, 2018
Supreme Court appointments are often contentious, and the recent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the nation’s highest court was no exception. In October 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard dramatic testimony from a woman who knew Kavanaugh when they were teenagers. Her claim that Kavanaugh threw her on a bed and groped her divided the country, but it ultimately failed to keep Kavanaugh off the court.
As experienced sexual harassment lawyers, we often analyze how sexual misconduct allegations can affect someone’s employment. Reach out to us today if you have a question.
The Charges Against Kavanaugh
As recounted by Dr. Christine Ford, at some unspecified point in 1982 an 18-year-old Brett Kavanaugh attended a party with his friends. Ford, who was 15 at the time, also attended with a friend. At some point that evening, Kavanaugh and another male pushed Ford into a room and then threw her on the bed.
Although Ford was wearing a swimsuit underneath her clothes, Kavanaugh got on top of her and allegedly tried to tear her clothes off. When Ford tried to scream, he put a hand over her mouth. For his part, Kavanaugh denied assaulting Ford and pointed to detailed calendars he kept in the summer of 1982 to rebut that he even attended a party with Ford.
The entire Senate ultimately confirmed Kavanaugh’s appointment with a 50-48 vote.
Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace
Although Kavanaugh was a teen when he engaged in the alleged activity, sexual assault is unfortunately far too common in our workplaces. Federal and state laws protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. This harassment can take many forms, such as:
- Quid pro quos, where a boss promises or threatens an employment action if a subordinate will sleep with him.
- Hostile work environment, where the environment is oppressive and discriminatory because of severe and pervasive harassing conduct. Harassment can be physical, such as groping, or verbal, consisting of jokes, epithets, slurs, and sexual comments.
Anyone can complain about sexual harassment, even if they are not the subject of the harassment. For example, a man might observe a female colleague being sexually harassed. He can report the harassment to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.
Protections for Retaliation
Employers are probably not pleased when an employee reports sexual harassment to the government. As a result, some employers might try to “get back” at the employee by retaliating. They could take many different forms of retaliatory action, such as demotion, termination, denial of benefits, intimidation, and harassment.
Fortunately, employees who have suffered retaliation can complain to the EEOC or the Division on Civil Rights. Remember to hold onto as much proof as you have, such as emails or phone messages. Often, retaliation can be inferred by a negative employment action that comes hot on the heels of a complaint.
Our New Jersey Whistleblower Lawyers Are Here to Help
We routinely represent clients who blow the whistle on illegal conduct, including sex discrimination. As one of New Jersey’s premier employment law firms, we understand how the law protects our clients, and we seek to obtain the most favorable outcome possible, whether that be reinstatement or money damages.
For more information, please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation, 609-619-8862.