Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination. However, despite the existence of laws in New York prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender in the workplace, sexual harassment is unfortunately nonetheless rather common. If you find yourself subjected to sexual harassment, you should talk to an experienced and dedicated New York sexual harassment lawyer.
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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Whether you are a man, woman, gay, or straight, sexual harassment and/or sexism in the workplace is always illegal. However, with the right New York sexual harassment attorney and proper knowledge of New York State and New York City sexual harassment laws, you can fight back.
Verdicts in New York for hostile work environment sexual harassment and quid pro quo sexual harassment can be high, so if you are experiencing sexual harassment at your job, contact a NYC sexual harassment lawyer today.
What Should Victims of Sexual Harassment Do?
If you believe that you have been subjected to sexual harassment, you need to start collecting and preserving evidence. To better understand how to collect evidence, you should first know what to look for:
- Collect any sexually harassing statements made to you. If the statement comes in written form such as in a letter or an email, keep it. If the evidence is based on an oral statement, do your best to remember it word-for-word and write it down as soon as you can. The best practice in such a situation is to type the statement electronically in some form that has a time stamp such as a text message so your sexual harassment attorney can prove the time and place in court.
- Photograph any inappropriate images, displays, or cartoons that indicate possible sexual harassment.
- Research your employer’s complaint procedure and complain about the sexual harassment pursuant to that procedure. You have to give your employer a chance to fix the situation and put an end to the sexual harassment. Make sure you follow your employer’s complaint procedure, if there is one, and report the sexual harassment to the correct person. It is always best to put your complaint in writing. If you’ve only complained verbally, make sure you follow up in writing confirming the fact that you complained and reiterating the subject of that verbal complaint. Furthermore, provide the person to whom you’re complaining with copies of all the evidence you’ve accumulated. Remember, the employer doesn’t have to fire the person sexually harassing you or inform you of the results of any investigation. They only have to make the sexual harassment stop.
- In fact, two U.S. Supreme Court decisions addressing hostile work environment sexual harassment, Faragher v. Boca Raton and Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, make reporting workplace sexual harassment somewhat mandatory. These cases combined give employers a legal defense under Title VII and the NYS Human Rights Law, known as the Faragher/Ellerth defense, which applies where an employer has a sexual harassment policy. Under the Faragher/Ellerth defense, an employer is not liable for sexual harassment in the workplace where the harassed employee unreasonable failed to utilize the employer’s sexual harassment complaint procedure. The defense is not absolute, and it only applies where the anti-harassment policy is regularly enforced and the employee was not fired as a result of the harassment. However, it is always a safe bet to report the sexual harassment pursuant to the employer’s policy just in case the Faragher/Ellerth defense may apply.
- Contact other witnesses and take statements.
- Keep records of all mental health treatment that you received as a result of the sexual harassment.
- Make sure to preserve any evidence you have. Keep multiple hardcopies in different places in case you lose one. Also, keep an electronic copy safe in a backed up file.
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If you are unsure how to go about doing any of this, you should contact an experienced New York sexual harassment lawyer to assist in helping you gather evidence and file a claim.
Can I Get Money for my NYC Sexual Harassment Case?
Yes, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Lost past, present, and future wages;
- Lost benefits;
- Emotional distress;
- Attorneys’ fees;
- Legal costs, such as court fees;
- Punitive damages, which is additional compensation intended to punish and deter your harassers.
Experienced workplace sexual harassment attorneys will do everything to protect your interests.
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What Are the Types of Illegal Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Actionable workplace sexual harassment can occur in two instances:
- quid pro quo sexual harassment
- hostile work environment sexual harassment.
In “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, the employee is forced to choose between accepting or submitting to sexual advances or suffering one or more employment-related consequences. The issue in a quid pro quo case is whether the supervisor has expressly or tacitly linked tangible job benefits to the acceptance or rejection of sexual advances.
If you were subject to unwelcome sexual conduct, and your reaction to the conduct was then used as the basis for reducing your pay, demoting you, or terminating your employment, you should contact a New York City sexual harassment attorney.
The second form of sexual harassment is called “hostile work environment” sexual harassment. This occurs when the workplace is permeated with sexually discriminatory and offensive comments and actions that alter the conditions of the employee’s work environment.
For example, frequent lewd jokes or emails containing pornographic images can create a hostile work environment. However, hostile work environment sexual harassment claims cannot be initiated simply because an employee finds one particular comment or joke offensive. There must be a continued pattern of workplace harassment.
Who Can Report Sexual Harassment?
Anyone can report sexual harassment in the workplace. You do not have to be the victim to report either Quid Pro Quo or Hostile Work Environment sexual harassment. Anyone who witnesses such behavior can complain to a supervisor or Human Resources representative. Our sexual harassment lawyers can help you determine to whom at your company you should file a complaint of sexual harassment. Protect your job, your salary, and your way of life by taking action against sexual harassment in the workplace.
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Common Types of Sexual Harassment You May Encounter
- Requests for sexual favors;
- Inappropriate physical contact, including touching, kissing, hugging, standing too close or intentionally brushing up against a person;
- Sexually explicit or suggestive comments, jokes, teasing, or innuendo;
- Commentary or questions about the victim’s sex life, body, or clothing;
- Displaying, posting, or circulating in the workplace emails, pictures, cartoons, or other written or graphic material of a sexually explicit, demeaning, or obscene nature;
- Verbal abuse or derogatory comments of a sexual or gender-specific nature;
- Staring, leering, whistling, or obscene gestures.
You should consult a qualified sexual harassment attorney to provide guidance as well as review the details of your specific sexual harassment claim.
Remember: Sexual harassment and sexism in the workplace does not always follow expected patterns. Men can easily be the victim of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can also occur between members of the same sex. Sexual harassment can even take place without any economic injury to the victim.
It is a common mistake to believe that sexual harassment can only be perpetrated by a supervisor or boss. You might have a valid claim for sexual harassment if you’ve endured inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature from a:
- Independent contractor
- Customer or client
If you are unsure whether you have a valid claim for sexual harassment, it is best to contact a NYC sexual harassment attorney.
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Sexual Harassment Statutes
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the federal law prohibiting gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act:
- Applies to employers with 15 or more employees;
- Requires you to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the most recent sexually harassing act.
- Does not cover offhand comments and “simple teasing.” The behavior must be “severe or pervasive” in nature.
- Allows you to recover compensation for lost wages, lost out-of-pocket expenses, attorneys’ fees, legal costs, compensation for emotional distress, and punitive damages. However, there are established limits on how much money you can collect based on the size of the employer.
The New York State Human Rights Law is the New York State law that outlaws sexual harassment in the workplace.
The NYS Human Rights Law defines sexual harassment the same way as Title VII does – it includes unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sex, as well as verbal or physical harassment based on sex. Under the NYS Human Rights Law, the conduct must also be “severe or pervasive” in nature. So, similar to Title VII, an isolated incident of sexual harassment is unlikely to be actionable unless the act was completely egregious, such as a sexual assault.
However, unlike Title VII, in the context of sexual harassment claims, the NYS Human Rights Law covers all employers regardless of size. Thus, even in small companies employing fewer than fifteen (15) employees, employees can still bring claims of sexual harassment against their employer.
The New York City Human Rights Law is New York City’s anti-discrimination law and is one of the broadest anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws in the country.
The aim is to create zero-tolerance policy on discriminatory behaviors in NYC workplaces. The NYC Human Rights Law also covers all employees’ sexual harassment claims regardless of the size of the employer. However, unlike Title VII and the NYS Human Rights Law, individual business owners and supervisors may also be held individually liable under the law.
Also unlike Title VII and the NYS Human Rights Law, the sexual harassment DOES NOT need to be “severe or pervasive.” Instead, you simply need to show the conduct rose above what a reasonable person would consider “petty slights and trivial inconveniences.” You are only required to show that you were treated less well than other employees because of your gender. A knowledgeable New York City sexual harassment attorney can give you more information about your specific legal rights as a New York City employee.
Sexual Harassment and Retaliation in New York City
If you still work for the offending employer, you might be concerned about losing your job if you report sexual harassment. However, legislation makes it illegal to take adverse employment actions against an employee for:
- Reporting sexual harassment to Human Resources
- Reporting sexual harassment to a supervisor
- Bringing a lawsuit for sexual harassment against an employer
- Participating in a legal action or proceeding against an employer
You cannot be fired, demoted, denied a promotion, harassed, or otherwise treated poorly in retaliation for engaging in any of the above protected activities. A sexual harassment lawyer at Law Office of Yuriy Moshes, P.C. can provide you with more details regarding all of your rights under the law.
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Types of Cases our Firm Handles
Our firm handles all types of sexual harassment in the workplace, including:
- Opposite-sex hostile work environment sexual harassment;
- Same-sex hostile work environment sexual harassment;
- Opposite-sex and same-sex quid pro quo sexual harassment;
- Same-sex quid pro quo sexual harassment;
Contact experienced New York sexual harassment lawyers at the Law Office of Yuriy Moshes, P.C. to learn how we can help.
At the Law Office of Yuriy Moshes, P.C., while we know that no one should have to tolerate unwelcome sexual advances and/or sexual harassment in the workplace, we also understand the difficulties involved in pursuing a sexual harassment claim.
Request a free consultation from one of our NYC sexual harassment lawyers today. We are ready to help victims of workplace harassment in the greater New York City area including all its boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island) as well as Northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Upstate New York.