Findings of probable cause from the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice show that a former employee at a Bayonne dry cleaner faced discrimination over her sexual orientation.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
In the case involving Professional Touch Dry Cleaning & Apparel Repairs, the complainant was hired as a counter employee in 2017 and quit her job after approximately two years because the business owner allegedly subjected her to a hostile working environment by openly disclosing, discussing, and deriding her sexual orientation.
The complainant stated that throughout her employment, the owner repeatedly made discriminatory comments about the fact that she is a lesbian in front of other employees and customers.
As part of its investigation, DCR interviewed several current employees, former employees, and customers of Professional Touch who corroborated the complainant’s claims.
“There simply is no place in the workplace for unwanted touching, lewd comments, inappropriate remarks about an individual’s sexual orientation or other forms of harassment,” state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.
“Employers have a duty to ensure a discrimination and harassment-free work environment. When they fail to do so, the Division on Civil Rights will take action.”
The state Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits discrimination and harassment in employment based on an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, or other protected characteristics.
Prohibited bias-based harassment, including sexual harassment, can take different forms. For example, workplace sexual harassment is unlawful when it is so severe or pervasive such that it creates a hostile working environment.
“Every person in New Jersey has the right to be free from sexual harassment and harassment based on sexual orientation at work,” added DCR Deputy Director Rosemary DiSavino.
“If employers subject their employees to illegal harassment, DCR will aggressively enforce the law.”
One former employee recalled that the owner made a disgusted facial expression while telling her that the complainant is gay.
Furthermore, a customer described an instance in which he observed the owner mocking the complainant behind her back by making a lewd gesture alluding to her sexual orientation.
The business has denied the allegations made against them.