#MeToo/Time’s Up

#Metoo

The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have brought sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace to center stage. "Victims are taking a stand and fighting back." The people committing these horrific acts must be held accountable for their actions and companies must financially pay the damages. The Fuggi Law Firm has been handling these types of cases for decades successfully, before they were thrust into the public eye.

If you have been sexually harassed, sexually abused, sexually molested, or raped, there has never been a more favorable time in which to come forward, confront your abusers and seek damages. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have opened doors for all women, men, and children who have been sexually abused or raped, to come forward and stand up for their right to work and live in a sexual abuse/harassment free atmosphere. These movements are not just limited to the rich and famous in the entertainment industry that we see on T.V.; but everyday employers in all fields must be held responsible for the acts of their employees and for their failure to have proper sexual harassment policies and protections in place. If you have been sexually abused, harassed, or assaulted in the workplace or other places, Robert Fuggi and his staff at the Fuggi Law Firm have lead the fight in victims’ rights in N.J. and have well over two decades of handling sexual abuse cases successfully. The Fuggi Law Firm has proven capable of holding your abuser and their company responsible.

IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE YOU TOO!

Beginning with the October 5, 2017, New York Times article exposing Hollywood Film Producer and Executive Harvey Weinstein as a serial sexual predator, the remainder of 2017 and early part of 2018 have been dominated by news surrounding the #MeToo Movement. The #MeToo movement is one in which people from all walks of life and all industries have stood up and voiced the need to end the sexually inappropriate abuse and harassment of their colleagues. In fact, Time Magazine, in their famed annual "Person of the Year" issue named those women who spoke up against their abusers as the People of the Year for 2017. "This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. People have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don't even seem to know that boundaries exist. They've had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can't afford to lose. They've had it with the code of going along to get along. They've had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought."

If this has happened to you, whether you are a woman, man, or even a child, we will represent you and assert your rights under the law. Many of the people sexually abused on the job need their jobs, and are afraid to speak up.

Person Of The Year| Time"Those who are often most vulnerable in society — women, immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income workers and LGBTQ people—described many types of dread regarding the naming of their abusers. If they raised their voices, would they be fired? Would their communities turn against them?"

Many suffer from a fear of being blackballed. What does the future hold for them financially? We have been successful in suing companies and institutions to protect not only children from sexual abuse, but people of all sexes, colors and backgrounds.

"Companies, meanwhile, are scrambling to keep up. Most large U.S.-based corporations now have fairly complete policies on sexual harassment, and many have anti–sexual harassment training programs and claim to be ‘zero-tolerance workplaces.’ A 2016 EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) report found that a company's willingness to protect so-called rainmakers—high-performing men like [Travis] Kalanick, [Harvey] Weinstein and [Bill] O'Reilly—to be one of the most pernicious reasons C—suites and corporate boards overlooked harassment. It doesn't matter how good a company's policy is if its systems are ignored or don't work. ‘So much harassment training is like an episode of The Office,’ says Victoria Lipnic, the acting chair of the EEOC."

"Norms evolve, and it's long past time for any culture to view sexual abuse/harassment as acceptable. But there's a great deal at stake in how we assess these new boundaries—for women and men together. We can and should police criminal acts and discourage inappropriate, destructive behavior."

However, Robert Fuggi and the staff at the Fuggi Law Firm have long been on the forefront of sexual abuse cases for decades. Mr. Fuggi has argued seminal cases before the Trial Courts, Appellate Courts, and even the Supreme Court of NJ on issues such as whether or not New Jersey Public Schools should be considered households as it relates to the Child Sexual Abuse Act in J.P. v. Southern Regional. He also handled, successfully, one of the largest sexual abuse cases in the history of New Jersey, J.F. vs. PASTOR R.L.S., et al.

You Need Not Suffer in Silence.

Let Fuggi Law Firm Help You Find
Your Voice.

We understand at the Fuggi Law Firm that many victims of abuse "have so much pain and anger that they have difficulty functioning in everyday life. Because the trauma is so deep and painful, many victims lash out in hate and rage as a result of those deep unhealed wounds."

"Many victims of sexual abuse suffer in silence for decades. Many experience shameful thoughts for the things that occurred, suicidal tendencies, and a feeling of blame or hopelessness that they may have been responsible or had something to do with what took place. Afterward, they attempt to come to grips with this emotional, mental and psychological trauma on their own, usually with poor results."

Those who "have experienced sexual abuse throughout their lifetimes… try to avoid thinking about those traumatic memories in order to attempt to function in a normal way. Unfortunately, in all likelihood this will do more harm than good"

Many studies have suggested that there is "a powerful relationship between our emotional experiences… and our physical and mental health… traumatic emotional experiences… grow into organic disease later in life."

We have found that many of the victims of sexual abuse have experienced alcohol abuse, drug abuse, chronic depression, morbid obesity, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and many other effects. These medical symptoms may be causally related to the person suffering in silence. The trauma builds up in their body; they are unable to properly process it and it has physiological and psychological effects on the victims as they grow up. Neuroscience has taught us, unfortunately, that "we can never erase or completely work through a traumatic experience because it remains encoded in our neuropsychology (and) there is no such thing as working something through once and for all"

Data on sexual abuse victims tells us that the trauma involved in sexual abuse is difficult to not only understand but also to process. People who have experienced sexual abuse throughout their life often fall into the trap of trying to repress their memories, deny their memories, and forget their memories in order to function in a normal way. Attempts to function in a normal way, as it relates to the trauma that they experienced, runs counter to normal healthy living."(Excerpted from a paper presented at Princeton Theological Seminary: Suffering in Silence by Robert R. Fuggi, Jr.)

When clients come to Robert Fuggi and the Fuggi Law Firm, we understand that the damages suffered by victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and rape go much further than just skin deep. Any legal action done with due diligence in this field must be accompanied by quality psychological evaluations by respected psychiatric legal experts. The Fuggi Law Firm can ensure that you have an evaluation with one to create a full narrative of any long-term or life-long psychiatric harm

ROBERT R. FUGGI, JR. ATTORNEY PROFILE

Long before the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Robert Fuggi has spent the majority of his career advocating for victims of sexual abuse, as a civil rights attorney, both children and adults, men and women. Mr. Fuggi has handled numerous sexual abuse cases, and one sex abuse case was the largest damages awarded in the state. Mr. Fuggi has argued before Trial Courts, Federal Courts, Appellate Courts, all the way up to the N.J. Supreme Court. He has argued seminal cases before the Appellate Division on issues such as whether or not New Jersey Public Schools could be considered households as it relates to the Child Sexual Abuse Act in J.P. v. Southern Regional. The issues argued in J.P were numerous, including: respondeat superior, the Lopez hearing statute of limitations, tolling provisions, the N.J. Child Sexual Abuse Act, the Charitable Immunity Act, The Tort Claims Act, all as they relate to sexual abuse.

Robert Fuggi has represented people from all over the country and New Jersey for violations of Civil Rights and sexual abuse . New Jersey residents will be hard pressed to find more qualified attorneys than those at the Fuggi Law Firm. Robert Fuggi has been selected as one of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018). The National Trial Lawyers is a national organization composed of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers from each state. Membership is obtained through special invitation and is extended only to those attorneys who exemplify superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature, and profile as a civil plaintiff or criminal defense attorneys.

Robert Fuggi and the Fuggi Law Firm have been involved in numerous high profile cases that have received statewide and national attention. He has built one of the most successful law firms in not just Ocean County, but in all of New Jersey.

Robert Fuggi attempts to handle cases that other firms aren’t interested in or may find too complex. While the firm began as a workers’ compensation litigation practice, the Fuggi Law Firm has morphed over the years into handling complex and difficult, high-profile litigation cases including sexual assault, harassment, abuse, and rape.

While the Fuggi Law Firm practices civil and criminal litigation, personal injury, wrongful death, family law, criminal defense, social security disability, and workers’ compensation, but over time the Fuggi Law Firm has made a name for itself in the matters of sexual abuse and sexual assault law. Because the Fuggi Law Firm is a litigation law firm, many areas of law are litigated. Mr. Fuggi oversees some of the cases, the trial cases, and cases with more publicity.

Robert Fuggi and the Fuggi Law Firm have handled several high-profile statewide and nationwide cases that have received a lot of publicity and coverage. In one of the cases, the firm helped expose institutional abuse extending back decades at a large church in New Jersey. The pastor had sexually abused children in the area, children attending the affiliated school, and altar boys.

Robert Fuggi attended the famed Princeton Theological Seminary and has completed two advanced graduate degrees. Mr. Fuggi has earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div) and a Master of Theology (Th.M). He is currently pursuing his PhD at Regent University School of Divinity. He is often approached to handle sexual abuse cases against religious organizations and other institutions because of his world-class theological training. But now that the culture in the workplace has begun to change for victim’s rights, the Fuggi Law Firm has now started utilizing its expertise in the field of sexual abuse to fight for those who have been sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped in the workplace.

Because of Mr. Fuggi’s significant trial experience and strong theological background, the staff and attorneys of the Fuggi Law Firm began to represent victims of institutional and sexual abuse, decades ago. Many firms wouldn’t take on these types of cases, so we began to litigate them ourselves. The result was the Fuggi Law Firm was able to successfully navigate the legal thresholds and obtain favorable resolutions on a large scale for numerous clients.

The firm continues with that representation, setting the legal standard in sexual assault, harassment, abuse, and rape cases and trials statewide against many organizations. Through excellence and professionalism, they continue to represent clients aggressively.

Based on Mr. Fuggi’s body of achievement in the field of representing victims of sexual abuse, clients would be well served to choose the Fuggi Law Firm as their legal counsel in any sexual harassment case.

ANY NONCONSENSUAL TOUCHING CAN BE SEXUAL ASSAULT

A person is subject to liability for the common law tort of assault if:

(a)He acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the person of the other or a third person, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact, and (b) the other is thereby put in such imminent apprehension."

Wigginton v. Servidio, 324 N.J. Super. 114, 129, (App. Div. 1999) (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts § 21 (1965)).

The tort of battery rests upon a nonconsensual touching. Perna v. Pirozzi, 92 N.J. 446, 461, (1983).

Don’t let any behavior, or inappropriate touching which you find offensive or which makes you uncomfortable, stand. If you are upset by it, report it to your employer. And if they ignore you or try to downplay your discomfort, please contact us at the Fuggi Law Firm immediately.

DID YOU KNOW: EMPLOYERS CAN BE HELD LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND SEXUAL ABUSE COMMITTED BY THEIR EMPLOYEES?

Under New Jersey case law, passive abusers such as employers who permit and acquiesce to sexual harassment or assault are seen under the law as being equal to the active abuser. Abusers under the law can be anyone with supervisory authority over the abuser or someone who owes a duty of care to the victim. Once this duty of care of supervisory authority is established, that person or entity becomes equally liable for any sexual abuse which takes place under respondeat superior concepts.

In the seminal case on child sexual abuse, Hardwicke v. American Boychoir School,188 N.J. 69, 89, the New Jersey Supreme Court followed other jurisdictions by expanding the liability of employers and other supervisory entities to include "non-persons."

New Jersey courts have adopted the Restatement (Second) of Agency §228 definition of scope of employment:

(1) Conduct of a servant is within the scope of employment if, but only if:

(a) it is of the kind he is employed to perform;

(b) it occurs substantially within the authorized time and space limits;

(c) it is actuated, at least in part by a purpose to serve the master, and ...

Under this doctrine, an employer will be held liable to a third party for the sexual abuse by an employee if the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment. Conduct by an employee is usually within the scope of employment if the conduct is of the kind the employee was hired to perform, "‘it occurs substantially within the authorized time and space limits; [and] it is actuated, at least in part, to serve the [employer].'" Di Cosala v. Kay, 91 N.J. 159, 169 (1982) (quoting Restatement (Second) of Agency § 228 (1957)) (first alteration in original).

Thus, New Jersey courts consider "the nature of the employment, the duties of the employee, [and] whether the accident occurred in the course of fulfilling some job-related function." Carter v. Reynolds, 175 N.J. at 411 (2003) (internal quotes omitted). In determining whether an employer is vicariously liable for the acts of it employees, New Jersey courts have said the "fact that the tort is negligent or intentional is of no real consequence." Hill v. N.J. Dep't of Corr. Comm'r, 342 N.J. Super. 273, 305 (App. Div. 2001), certif. denied, 171 N.J. 338 (2002).

The prior doctrine of respondeat superior renders an employer liable for the torts of an employee only,when the employee was acting within the scope of employment. This has now been substantially expanded.

Furthermore, if the actors’ assault occurred substantially within the authorized time and limits of his employment.

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer will be held liable to a third party for the torts of an employee if the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment. See Carter v. Reynolds, 175 N.J. 402, 408–09 (2003); Hill v. N.J. Dep't of Corr. Comm'r, 342 N.J. Super. 273, 305 (App. Div. 2001), certif. denied, 171 N.J. 338 (2002). Conduct by an employee is usually within the scope of employment if the conduct is of the kind the employee was hired to perform, "‘it occurs substantially within the authorized time and space limits; [and] it is actuated, at least in part, to serve the [employer].’" Di Cosala v. Kay, 91 N.J. 159, 169 (1982) (quoting Restatement (Second) of Agency § 228 (1957)) (first alteration in original). Other factors include:

Whether the conduct is of the same general nature as that authorized, or incidental to the conduct authorized; whether the master has reason to expect that such an act will be done; the similarity in quality of the act done to the act authorized; and the extent of departure from the normal method of accomplishing an authorized result.

Hill v. N.J. Dep't of Corr. Comm'r, 342 N.J. Super. 273, 306 (citing Restatement (Second) of Agency § 229 (1957).

Thus, New Jersey courts consider "the nature of the employment, the duties of the employee, [and] whether the accident occurred in the course of fulfilling some job-related function." Carter v. Reynolds, 175 N.J. at 411 (2003) (internal quotes omitted).

An act may fall within the scope of employment although consciously criminal or tortuous. See Gilborges v. Wallace, 78 N.J.342, 351 (1978) (holding master liable for conduct not within the scope of employment only if the servant's action advanced "the employer's business or interests, as distinguished from the private affairs of the servant.")

An employer, therefore, will be held liable for its employee's intentional torts when they are "reasonably connected with the employment and so within its scope." Abbamont v. Piscataway Tp. Bd. of Ed., 138 N.J. 405, 419 (1994) (citing W. Prosser, et al., Cases and Materials Torts, 685 (7th ed.1982)). See also Mason v. Sportsman's Pub, 305 N.J. Super. 482, 497–500 (App. Div. 1997) (holding pub vicariously liable for employee-bouncer's battery of patron because bouncer was acting within scope of employment, battery took place during hours he was employed and within space limits of employment, and ejection of patron served employer's purpose of maintaining orderly establishment).

What precaution did the employer take before hiring the abuser? Many times nothing; the employer is negligent.

In Di Cosala, a boy brought suit against a camp ground owner-operator when he was accidentally shot in the neck by a camp ranger. In the case, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that the Court could expressly recognize tort of negligence in hiring or retention of incompetent, unfit or dangerous employee(s) and the Court recognized that employee conduct which may form basis of cause of action need not even be within scope of employment. The Court also ruled that camp owner-operator owed duty to the boy to exercise reasonable care in the hiring and retention of its employees.

So, if you are sexually assaulted, harassed, abused, or raped by a co-worker or boss, your employer can and should be held liable, especially if the behavior was reported and they did not take action to rectify the situation. This is where it’s important to find the right legal counsel to guide you through this process.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN HARASSED OR SEXUALLY ABUSED BY A CO-WORKER, YOUR EMPLOYER WILL BE HELD LIABLE FOR NEGLIGENT HIRING OR NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION OF THAT EMPLOYEE.

New Jersey courts have explicitly recognized that:

the tort of negligent hiring or retention of an incompetent, unfit or dangerous employee and held that one may be liable for injuries to third persons proximately caused by such negligence.

Di Cosala v. Kay, 91 N.J. 159, 173-74 (1982).

In order to demonstrate negligent hiring and/or retention, you and your attorney must demonstrate two fundamental elements. The first involves that the employer had knowledge and foreseeability of harm to you. That is to say an employer is only liable for the actions of its employees beyond the scope of the employment where "it knew or had reason to know of the particular unfitness, incompetence or dangerous attributes of the employee and could reasonably have foreseen that such qualities created a risk of harm to other persons." Di Cosala v. Kay, 91 N.J. 159, 173-74 (1982)

The second element is that, based upon negligence of the employer in hiring or retaining your abuser, the employee’s "incompetence, unfitness, or dangerous characteristics proximately caused the injury." through the negligence of the employer in hiring the employee, the latter's incompetence, unfitness or dangerous characteristics proximately caused the injury. Di Cosala v. Kay, 91 N.J. 159, 173-74 (1982) (citing Hathcock v. Mitchell, 277 Ala. 586, 173 So.2d 576, 584 (1965)).

Furthermore, New Jersey courts have "imposed upon employers… responsibilities and a duty to exercise reasonable care in the supervision of employees." Davis v. Devereux Foundation, 209 N.J. 269, 292 (2012). Therefore, liability for negligent supervision may arise if an employee engages in conduct committed outside the scope of the employee's employment. Hoag v. Brown, 397 N.J. Super. 34, 54 (App. Div. 2007).

In order to establish such a claim, it must show, among other things, whether the employer knew or had reason to know of the need and opportunity to control the employee. Doe v. KYC Corp., 382 N.J. Super. 122, 132 (App. Div. 2005) (citing Restatement (Second) of Torts § 328B (1965)).

After an incident of abuse or harassment has been reported to an employer, the company and/or any parent companies can be held liable.

IF YOUR EMPLOYER IS FOUND LEGALLY LIABLE FOR YOUR HARASSMENT OR ABUSE, YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO PUNITIVE DAMAGES.

Large companies have long had the practice of paying off employees who have been sexually harassed or sexually abused quickly and quietly to save their public image. But in doing so, the companies are never held properly responsible for the negligent business practices. That is why N.J. instituted the Punitive Damages Act. It is meant to hit companies with a financial cost high enough to deter them from allowing similar behavior from happening again. However, without experienced attorneys it can be difficult to satisfy all the legal requirements for punitive damages.

According to the New Jersey "Punitive Damages Act;" punitive damages are permissible if stated in the complaint. But there are several other factors which are required.

1) That it's likely a serious harm would arise by the abuser's actions.

2) The abuser's awareness that a serious harm would arise from their actions.

3) Did the company act properly once the abuse or harassment was discovered?

4) How long did the harassment or abuse last and did the company attempt to conceal the actions of the abuser?

If all those criteria are met, then the Court can award punitive damages. The amount of the punitive damages will be awarded commensurate with the following criteria:

1) Did the company profit off the abuse or harassment?

2) How long did it take the company to stop the abuse or harassment?

3) How much is the company worth?

The punitive damages statute states: "Punitive damages may be awarded to the plaintiff only if the plaintiff proves, by clear and convincing evidence, that the harm suffered was the result of the defendant's acts or omissions, and such acts or omissions were actuated by actual malice or accompanied by a wanton and willful disregard of persons who foreseeably might be harmed by those acts or omissions."

Punitive Damages awards can be large, as they are based off the earning power of the defendant employer, but they can also be very difficult to obtain. That is why you need to hire the best lawyers you can in these matters, because it could create a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Robert Fuggi and the experienced staff at the Fuggi Law Firm can guide you through this difficult process.

If you have been sexually assaulted on the job, contact Robert Fuggi and the Fuggi Law Firm to discuss your rights and the legal venues you may have to pursue your case, whether that is in Federal Court, State Court or Workers’ Compensation Court. We are here to help and hold those responsible for your harm and damages.