Hostile Work Environment Based on Sex - Sexual Harassment

New York Hostile Work Environment Lawyers

Despite the fact that the law demands gender equality in the workplace, sexual harassment is still rampant, even in New York. The most prevalent form of sexual harassment is called hostile work environment harassment. The New York sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates understand the laws that are meant to protect workers from a hostile work environment. If you are facing inappropriate harassment at work, Phillips & Associates can help.

What is a Hostile Work Environment?

Conduct that constitutes sexual harassment can be verbal, written, or physical. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination; however, men can be the victims of sexual harassment, and the genders of the harasser and victim are irrelevant, meaning that it can occur between two men or two women. Additionally, the person making the claim of harassment need not be the victim. It can be anyone who is affected by the situation.

There are two ways in which a hostile work environment can occur. The first is through actions that would create a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment to a reasonable person. The second occurs when unwelcome conduct interferes with a person’s ability to do his or her job. In both cases, the conduct in question must be severe or pervasive. This means that one instance of harassment may not create a hostile work environment. However, extreme conduct, such as a sexual assault, or repeated, less-severe conduct may create a hostile work environment.

Some examples of conduct that may indicate a hostile work environment exists include:

  • Inappropriate sexual verbal comments, emails, or text messages;
  • Unwelcome sexual advances;
  • Sexually explicit or derogatory cartoons or drawings;
  • Unlawful physical touching;
  • Requests for sexual favors;
  • Blocking, trapping, or an intimidating physical presence; or
  • Non-sexual but inappropriate comments about a person’s gender.

The person engaging in these prohibited actions may be a coworker, a manager or boss, or a third-party who is onsite.

New York and U.S. Laws Prohibit Hostile Work Environments

There are three major laws that protect New Yorkers subjected to hostile work environments. A federal law called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits conduct that either interferes with the harrassee’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Claims of sexual harassment can be investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which will look at the totality of the circumstances that surround the claim; victims can also file suit in court under this law. These federal protections apply to employers with 15 or more employees.

The other two laws that protect New Yorkers are the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws. These laws are written to protect generally the same rights as the federal law. One benefit of the state and city laws, however, are that they apply to employers with as few as four employees. Therefore, even if your employer is not covered by the federal law, it may subject to state or city law.

Plaintiffs who bring a successful lawsuit under any of these three laws may be entitled to compensatory damages for financial injuries and emotional distress. In some cases they also may be entitled to punitive damages.

You Do Not Have to Tolerate Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the form of a hostile working environment can transform your dream job into a nightmare. If you are the victim of a hostile work environment, trust your case to experienced New York employment lawyers. Phillips & Associates will work hard to protect your rights. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, fill out our online contact form or call Phillips & Associates at (212) 248-7431.

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