New Jersey Appellate Division Holds That Employer Can Be Liable For Co-Worker Harassment If Employer Lacks Effective Anti-Harassment Policies

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In Cerdeira v. Martindale-Hubbell, 402 N.J. Super. 486 (App. Div. 2008), decided on September 18, 2008, the Appellate Division held that an employer can be liable for sexual harassment committed by Defendant’s a co-worker, even if the employer did not know that the harassment was occurring. 

It is well established that an employer can be held liable under a negligence theory for the sexual or other harassment committed by a supervisor if the employer does not have an effective anti-harassment policy in place. In Cerdeira, the Appellate Division confirmed that liability under a negligence theory is not limited to harassment committed by supervisors, but also applies to harassment committed by co-workers. Arguably, this is an expansion of an employer’s potential liability under New Jersey law, which had not previously ruled on the issue of employer liability for co-worker harassment.

The Cerdeira decision highlights the importance for employers to implement effective anti-harassment policies and to make employees aware of those policies through publications and training.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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