Barnes v. State of New Jersey, 2008 WL 5233544 (App. Div., December 17, 2008) – This decision reminds employers yet again of the critical importance of creating, publishing and then following a comprehensive policy for sexual harassment and other complaints of discrimination. Here, the plaintiff’s claims were defeated because she utilized the complaint mechanisms in the policy, which the company followed to promptly investigate her claims and take swift, effective action against her harasser. According to the court, “A company that develops policies reflecting a lack of tolerance for harassment will have less concern about hostile work environment or punitive damages claims if its good-faith attempts include periodic publication to workers of [its] policy; an effective and practical grievance process; and training sessions for workers, supervisors and managers about how to recognize and eradicate unlawful harassment.”
Note: This article was published in the January 2009 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.