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Holiday Parties and Sexual Advances

Workplace Harassment Attorneys Assisting New York City Employees

Although holiday parties are supposed to be a time for celebrating the end of the year with your coworkers, supervisors, and managers, not everyone enjoys them. The relaxed atmosphere is generally more fun for those at the top of the work hierarchy. Employees may rightly fear unwanted sexual advances and other inappropriate behavior at a holiday party. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers may be able to help you seek damages if you were subject to a sexual advance by a coworker, supervisor, or employer.

Establishing Liability for Sexual Advances at Holiday Parties

Sexual advances may result from relaxed inhibitions or too much alcohol. Sometimes advances are welcome, but often they are unwanted, and they may include a suggestion that acquiescence will result in advancement in the workplace. Some workers and managers are unaware that a holiday party is an extension of the workplace and that sexual advances constitute sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited by Title VII and the New York City Human Rights Law. Although the Human Rights Law typically applies to employers that have at least four employees, with regard to sexual harassment, it applies to all employers, no matter the number of employees.

There are two types of prohibited sexual harassment: hostile work environment and quid pro quo harassment. Both may occur between men and women, between people of the same sex, or between people who are transgender or have nonconforming genders. A hostile work environment may be found when there is one sexual advance at a holiday party if the advance is sufficiently severe. A drunken coworker making one lewd remark might not qualify, whereas a supervisor groping an employee without their consent might. Quid pro quo harassment arises if someone who has authority over you promises advancement if you succumb to the sexual advance.

Sexual Harassment by an Owner or Supervisor

Employers in New York City may be held strictly liable for an owner or high-level manager's harassment of an employee, even if the other owners or managers do not know about it. They may be strictly liable for sexual harassment by lower-level managers and supervisors if these people have enough control over the victim's working conditions.

Even if nobody complains at the time, a sexual advance at a holiday party may have consequences for a continuing work relationship far into the future. In some cases, a sexual advance that is spurned or reported results in retaliation. This is unlawful under federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws.

Under the New York Human Rights Law, for example, it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate or discriminate against someone who has, among other things, opposed a practice forbidden by the law, assisted in a proceeding based on the law, or sued the employer, alleging unlawful discriminatory practices under the law. Retaliation does not need to lead to a firing to be unlawful. It must simply be reasonably likely to deter someone from engaging in a protected activity.

Seek Assistance from a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in New York City

If you suffered from an unwanted sexual advance at a holiday party, you should consult a New York City sexual harassment attorney. At Phillips & Associates, we are dedicated to asserting the rights of our clients. It may be humiliating and frightening to be groped or propositioned by someone who has control over your paycheck and advancement in the workplace. Contact us at (833) 529-3476 or through our online form to set up a free appointment with a sexual harassment or gender discrimination attorney. We serve employees in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, Westchester, as well as in Suffolk and Nassau Counties.

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