On November 6, 2013, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted certification in Aguas v. State of New Jersey, 2013 WL 1136115 (App. Div. Mar. 20, 2013), a pro-employer ruling on the issue of employer liability for sexual harassment by supervisors. In Aguas, the Appellate Division affirmed summary judgment for the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) on the plaintiff’s claims for sexual harassment and hostile work environment created by her supervisors because the DOC had demonstrated due care in adopting and implementing an effective anti-sexual harassment policy, and because it conducted an investigation within a reasonable time period following plaintiff's complaints. Accordingly, the court held that plaintiff could not demonstrate that the DOC negligently administered its anti-sexual harassment policy or aided the harassment through the authority it delegated to the offending supervisors. The Supreme Court’s opinion on review could have a significant impact on the steps employers should take to prevent and respond to sexual harassment claims involving supervisors.
Note: This article was published in the January 2014 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.