Despite increased awareness, sexual harassment still persists in the workplace. The New York sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates have helped countless people protect their right to work in an environment free from unlawful and harassing conduct. If your boss or another coworker is making unwanted sexual advances toward you, contact our firm for help.
Unwanted Sexual Advances Are Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is illegal because it is a type of gender discrimination. Repeated unwanted sexual advances can create what employment laws refer to as a hostile work environment. There are two ways in which sexual advances create such an environment. First, this can occur through simply creating an environment that, to a reasonable person, is intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Unwanted sexual advances could also create a hostile work environment by interfering with a person’s ability to do his or her job. If either, or both, of these situations exist, the offending conduct has created a hostile work environment, and the employer may be liable to the employee for damages.
Overt sexual advances are not the only behavior that may lead to a hostile work environment. More subtle conduct might also create such an environment. Some examples of such conduct are:
- Inappropriate comments about gender that are non-sexual;
- Pervasive and repeated comments about a person’s appearance; or
- Emails, letters, or other written correspondence with inappropriate comments.
Any behavior that either creates a hostile or offensive environment or that interferes with the victim’s ability to do his job can create a hostile work environment. Generally, the behavior must be pervasive or severe to qualify as a hostile work environment. If you are unsure whether you are being subjected to a hostile work environment, seek the advice of an experienced lawyer.
Federal, State, and Local Laws Protect Employees
The major federal law that prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employees who suffer from sexual harassment, or any other form of discrimination, can sue their employers under this statute. For sexual harassment claims, victims must first file a complaint with a federal agency called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is charged with enforcing the Civil Rights Act, and will investigate the employee’s claim while attempting to persuade the parties to settle out of court. If the EEOC completes the investigation, and the parties have not resolved the dispute, the employee is allowed to file suit.
The New York City and New York State Human Rights Laws also protect employees by prohibiting sexual harassment at work. These laws are fairly similar to the federal Civil Rights Act with the exception that they apply to employers with as few as four employees, whereas the federal statute is applicable to employers with 15 or more employees. Thus, even if your employer is not covered by the Civil Rights Act, you may be protected by state or city law.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
No person should have to cope with sexual harassment at work. The New York sexual harassment lawyers of Phillips & Associates understand the difficult situation faced by victims of unwanted sexual advances. If your boss or another coworkers is repeatedly hitting on you, call us for a confidential consultation at (866) 229-9441 or visit our contact page.