Gay and Lesbian Harassment
New York City Lawyers Helping LGBT Employees Protect Their Rights
It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you because you are gay or lesbian, and workplace harassment is a form of discrimination. Many gay and lesbian workers are aware that they are subject to discrimination on the job, and a large percentage also face hostility or harassment while working. If you are subject to gay or lesbian harassment on the job, the New York City LGBT harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates may be able to help you recover damages.
Gay and Lesbian Harassment
Gay and lesbian harassment could include lewd comments, offensive jokes, rude remarks, taunts about spouses or partners, denial of promotions, verbal attacks, sexual assaults, or unfair job performance evaluations. Often, this harassment is driven by homophobia. The person who perpetrates the harassment may be gay or lesbian himself or herself, or they may be heterosexual.
Many gay or lesbian victims of harassment are hesitant to confront a perpetrator of harassment due to the lack of express support for LGBT individuals in our culture, as well as under Title VII. Title VII prohibits sexual harassment but does not explicitly prohibit sexual orientation harassment.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance in the past stating that sexual orientation discrimination is one type of sex discrimination. Additionally, in a Supreme Court case, the Supreme Court held that Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination includes a prohibition against harassment by people of the same sex. In the case, a man was humiliated by his male coworkers and threatened with rape. His supervisors failed to protect him, and ultimately the Supreme Court found that Title VII covered same-sex claims when the discrimination was based on sex, rather than sexual orientation.
State and Local Laws
The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law expressly prohibit sexual harassment based on sexual orientation. An LGBT harassment attorney in New York City can help sue your employer under these laws if you can show that the employer either participated in the harassment or failed to fix the problem once you notified them about it.
Often, gay or lesbian victims of harassment are also legitimately fearful that their sexual orientation, rather than the harassment that they have suffered, will be the focus of any inquiry. In one case, the plaintiff identified as lesbian and was advised that the other female employees at the workplace had long hair, carried purses, wore makeup, and wore women's shoes. She was told that she needed to lose weight to look more like a woman and that she should come to her harasser's office and get weighed to see how overweight she was, and she was called at home about her weight. In one incident, she was ordered to take off her clothes down to her underwear, which she did, in a state of shock. Another harasser said that her practice of carrying a wallet in her back pocket was gay. She was also asked if she was one of "those gay people" and whether she had a boyfriend. However, in the end, a federal New York district court found that there was no sexual orientation discrimination and that the two more serious incidents of sexual harassment, while upsetting, were too far apart (nine years) and not severe enough or pervasive enough to constitute sexual harassment under Title VII. There was no evidence in that case that these events unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff's job either subjectively or objectively.
As a result, it may be better for a New York City LGBT harassment attorney to pursue gay or lesbian harassment claims under state or local laws. The New York State Human Rights Law expressly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. This law also applies to a broader range of employees and provides for a potentially greater award of damages. New York State and New York City are known for having some of the most progressive anti-harassment laws in the country.
Discuss Your Case with an LGBT Harassment Lawyer in New York City
At Phillips & Associates, we understand the challenges that you may face as a victim of workplace harassment, and we may be able to help you recover a wide range of damages. We represent workers in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Westchester County, and New Jersey. Contact us at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form for an appointment.
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