Sexual Harassment in a Law Firm
Employment Rights Attorneys Assisting People in New York City
Although many lawyers are aware of anti-discrimination laws, there is still sexual harassment in the legal industry in New York City. If you have been sexually harassed by your boss or a coworker at a law firm, you may be understandably concerned about complaining to HR. You may be concerned about your reputation and your ability to get another job. However, it is important to hold lawyers and other people in law firms accountable for their misconduct. An experienced New York City sexual harassment attorney may be able to help you do that. At Phillips & Associates, we work hard to help employees harmed by law firm sexual harassment.
Law Firm Sexual Harassment
Workplace sexual harassment can consist of offensive remarks, jokes, innuendoes, requests, touching, groping, or even rape. While most people think of sexual harassment as including a reference to sex, some sexual harassment is actionable that involves repeated remarks about a particular gender or sex.
Sexual harassment comes in two recognized types. The first is quid pro quo sexual harassment. This occurs when an authority figure tries to exchange workplace benefits or privileges for sexual favors from a subordinate. For example, if a partner says that he will help you advance to partner while you are an associate, in exchange for a one-night stand, this would be quid pro quo harassment. The other type of sexual harassment is hostile work environment harassment. This occurs when harassing words or behavior are either so pervasive or so severe that they create an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or offensive. A trivial remark is not enough to count as hostile work environment harassment. However, if a coworker makes rude remarks about your body or sends around pornographic emails on a regular basis, these may be enough to create a hostile work environment.
Drinking and Law Firm Harassment
Many law firms have a strong drinking culture that may be coupled with what is known as bonding, team building, or networking. Up to 36% of lawyers can be considered problem drinkers. While not all sexual harassment is a result of alcohol abuse, a significant percentage of it is. One Cornell University study has found that workplace sexual harassment goes up if alcohol is involved. Often, the harassment involves men directing offensive remarks toward women in contexts involving drinking and permissive attitudes. Lawyers who drink heavily at office parties may lose their inhibitions, and they may abuse or sexually harass their coworkers or subordinates.
When sexual harassment is ongoing, the harassment victim may also increase consumption of alcohol. The victim may be trying to escape psychological distress, depression, anxiety, irritability, low self-esteem, vulnerability, and a feeling of helplessness. This can pose difficulties when trying to recover damages because the employer is likely to argue that the victim's alcohol consumption clouded their judgment or recollection of what happened. It is important to retain a New York City attorney who is committed to sexual harassment victims and can investigate what happened to skillfully counter such an argument.
Damages for Sexual Harassment
Damages that you may be able to recover include back pay, out-of-pocket costs, emotional distress, and punitive damages. If you have been terminated, you may be entitled to reinstatement, but in the context of sexual harassment, the relationship between employer and employee can become so badly frayed that a working relationship is not viable. In that case, you may be better off trying to recover front pay. The law that you use to bring your sexual harassment lawsuit can have an impact on the scope and amount of damages. For example, if you bring your claim under Title VII, there is a cap on compensatory and punitive damages. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with an experienced sexual harassment attorney early in your case to determine a strategy for recovery.
Seek Assistance from a New York City Lawyer Following Law Firm Sexual Harassment
At Phillips & Associates, we fight law firm sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct on the job, and we may be able to help you recover damages. We represent people 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.
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