New York State Sexual Harassment Laws

Manhattan Attorneys for Victims of Employment Discrimination

Sexual harassment is not permitted in New York workplaces. This behavior is prohibited by federal, state, and city law. The employment discrimination lawyers of Phillips & Associates have devoted their efforts to helping workers in Manhattan and elsewhere in New York who have been affected by unlawful conduct. If you have endured sexual harassment at work, your employer has likely violated the law and can be held liable for its actions.

Take Action Against Sexual Harassment

There are two broad categories of harassment based on gender, neither of which is allowed in any form. The more obvious type is called quid pro quo harassment. This conduct usually occurs when an employer or supervisor offers to trade an employment benefit for some kind of sexual favor. A common example is promising to promote a worker in exchange for going on a date with the boss. This type of harassment might also take the form of punishing an employee who rebuffs the supervisor’s advances.

The more subtle and more common type of sexual harassment is called a hostile work environment. There are two ways in which an employer can create this situation. The first is by engaging in or allowing behavior that creates what a reasonable person would consider an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. The second is by tolerating or encouraging conduct that unreasonably interferes with an employee’s ability to do his or her job.

Conduct that may lead to a hostile work environment based on sexual harassment varies from case to case, but common examples include:

  • Sexually charged comments, whether verbal or written;
  • Unwelcome physical touching; or
  • Intimidating physical situations, such as blocking or trapping.

Under the New York State Human Rights Law (HRL), the offensive conduct must be severe or pervasive. In other words, a hostile work environment usually does not arise from a single stray remark. However, it could be found after a single instance of extreme conduct, such as a sexual assault, or after a long series of minor actions.

State Law Prohibits All Forms of Gender Discrimination

Both quid pro quo and hostile work environment harassment are forbidden by New York state law. The New York State Human Rights Law (HRL) protects workers from unlawful discrimination based on age, race, sexual orientation, gender, and many other personal characteristics. Since sexual harassment is a type of gender discrimination, it is covered by the HRL. Specifically, § 296 of this law prohibits discrimination based on sex, which also includes pregnancy. Section 296-c closes a potential loophole and prohibits sexual harassment against unpaid interns.

One benefit that the HRL holds over federal legislation in the same area is that the state law applies to employers with as few as four workers. This ensures that more New York employees are protected from sexual harassment.

Contact an Employment Lawyer to Discuss a New York Harassment Claim

You do not have to tolerate any form of gender discrimination at work. State law aims to eliminate sexual harassment from workplaces entirely, and it allows employees who have been subjected to this unlawful behavior to hold an employer accountable in Manhattan or elsewhere in New York. If your rights have been infringed, an employment law attorney at Phillips & Associates can help you explore your options. To schedule a free case evaluation, call (212) 248-7431 or visit our contact page.