Sex harassment investigator sued for giving bum advice

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

New Jersey attorneys may be feeling their clients’ pain on a whole new level.

A recent district court ruling allowed an employee to sue the attorney who investigated her sexual harassment complaint (as well as her employer). Her claim: The investigating attorney gave her incorrect information that she relied on.

The woman filed suit against her employer, Morristown township, after repeatedly complaining that her supervisor exposed her to sexually explicit material.

The township paid an outside law firm to investigate. Its attorney allegedly told the employee she had no case since her supervisor hadn’t directed any sexual touching or language at her. The lawyer also argued he was under no obligation to provide her correct advice because they didn’t have an attorney-client relationship.

The court disagreed, finding that the case met the standards of negligent counsel, i.e., bad advice relied on to the client’s detriment.

Bottom line: Believe your attorneys when they say you’re all in it together. If they give bum advice, they’ll face a lawsuit, too.

Final tip: A sexually hostile environment can exist even without any direct sexual touching or language. It’s enough that sexually explicit material permeates the workplace.  

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