Holiday Parties and Sexual Comments
Sometimes supervisors and managers are emboldened to make sexual comments at a holiday party. They may not realize that a holiday party is sponsored by the employer and viewed as an extension of the workplace. Or they may be too drunk to care. Regardless, you should not feel that you need to simply accept sexual comments at your holiday party or workplace. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment attorneys can evaluate the facts of your situation and represent you if you have a claim.Holiday Parties and Sexual Comments
Sexual harassment is prohibited in New York workplaces. Sexual comments sometimes may rise to the level of harassment. Federal law does not prohibit offhand comments or isolated incidents. If your supervisor tells a sexual joke at a holiday party but is totally professional at the office, this is unlikely to rise to the level of sexual harassment under Title VII.
In order to qualify as sexual harassment under federal law, sexual comments at a holiday party must be so objectively offensive that they change the conditions of your employment. This means that the sexual comments must be so severe or pervasive that they create a hostile work environment or culminate in a tangible employment decision, such as your getting fired, demoted, or reassigned to an unfavorable position. Generally, an employer is liable for sexual comments made by a supervisor that result in a tangible employment decision because the law recognizes that an employer acts through its supervisors.
Sometimes employers wait a short time after a complaint about sexual comments to take a tangible employment action. However, under Title VII case law, there is a strong inference of discrimination if a harassing supervisor has significant input into a tangible employment decision that affects you because it is assumed that the harasser cannot act objectively with respect to you. Employers sometimes come up with a pretext to hide their true discriminatory reasons for taking an action. This is one reason why it is important to hire an aggressive and knowledgeable employment attorney.New York Employment Discrimination Laws Offer Greater Protection
New York state and local laws tend to offer greater protection to workers. Under New York state laws, sexual harassment may include sexual comments if these comments are either explicitly or implicitly made a term of your employment, submitting to these comments or rejecting them is the basis for employment decisions, or the comments have the effect or goal of unreasonably interfering with your work performance or creating a hostile work environment.
Under state and local laws, you will need to file a sexual harassment or retaliation claim within three years of the event that gave rise to your claim or of the time that you were made aware of the discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory behavior. Unlike with Title VII, you will not need to file a charge with an administrative agency before suing, but it is not a good idea to wait a long time to bring your claim. Often, memories of witnesses fade, particularly when remarks, rather than physical actions, are concerned.Contact a Sexual Harassment Attorney in New York City
If you suffered through sexual comments at a holiday party, you should contact an experienced New York City sexual harassment lawyer. At Phillips & Associates, we can advise you on the full scope of your rights and options. We understand how demeaning sexual comments may be, particularly when they result in an adverse employment action. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or use our online form to set up a free consultation with a sexual harassment or gender discrimination attorney. We represent employees in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, Westchester, as well as in Suffolk and Nassau Counties.
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