Rutgers holds workplace sexual harassment prevention workshop

Posted: Updated:
NEW BRUNSWICK -

Rutgers University held a workshop Friday for employers to learn more about combatting sexual harassment in the workplace.

The workshop comes as more women around the country open up about sexual harassment and gender inequality.

“What was acceptable 20 or 30 years ago isn’t acceptable now,” says Michael Phelan, former MTA director of training.

Phelan says that what some people call “locker room talk” can actually play a role in sexual harassment.

Phelan used to investigate sexual harassment claims of subway employees at the MTA. He says that profanity and offensive words were the common complaints he dealt with.

“Break room, lunchroom, background talk where people don’t realize that others are hearing their conversation or they’re just louder than co-workers and they’re oversharing,” he says.

Phelan was one of the professionals at Rutgers' Labor Education Center who signed up for the sexual harassment workshop. These workers say that they want to go back to their companies and teach employees about today's standards of what's appropriate.

As the #MeToo movement gains steam, more industry leaders say that they are trying to combat sexism. This includes those that are majority male, like carpentry.

“Our organization itself set up a program…to really mentor women who work in this environment and really give them a voice to come forward if they’re not comfortable with something that happened,” says carpenter Anthony Abrantes. “It’s been pretty effective.”

So where is the link when it comes to inappropriate office talk? Rutgers professor Jim Cooney says that the courts say if it's a comment a "reasonable person" would find offensive and it’s either severely offensive or ongoing, that can be viewed as sexual harassment.

“If it’s a comment made because clearly the person was female, then that can make it so that you can bring a claim,” Cooney says.

The workshop today also focused on how employers can investigate claims of sexual harassment.

  • New Jersey SlideshowsSlideshowsMore>>

  • Your 2018 New Jersey Halloween Costumes

    Your 2018 New Jersey Halloween Costumes

    Monday, October 22 2018 12:09 PM EDT2018-10-22 16:09:22 GMT

    Will you be spooky or scary? Or maybe playful or funny! Whatever your Halloween costumes are this year, News 12 wants to see them!

    Will you be spooky or scary? Or maybe playful or funny! Whatever your Halloween costumes are this year, News 12 wants to see them!

  • New Jersey Homes Decked Out for Halloween

    New Jersey Homes Decked Out for Halloween

    Monday, October 22 2018 3:14 PM EDT2018-10-22 19:14:24 GMT

    Does your street have the houses with the best Halloween decorations? 

    Does your street have the houses with the best Halloween decorations? 

  • Just Married in New Jersey

    Just Married in New Jersey

    News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding.News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding.

    News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding. If you were married in the past 90 days, please submit your photos via Twitter or Instagram using #JustMarriedNJ.  

    News 12 New Jersey wants to announce your wedding. If you were married in the past 90 days, please submit your photos via Twitter or Instagram using #JustMarriedNJ.  

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."