FAQ about Hazing

FAQ About Hazing 

Questions About Hazing Answered by Lawyers

If you were the victim of hazing, you should call the trusted attorneys of Phillips & Associates. Unlike other firms, we only represent plaintiffs, so you can feel assured we’re on your side and will fight hard for your rights and interests. We represent hazing victims on a contingency fee basis and offer free initial consultations. You may feel uncertain about your legal options in the aftermath of hazing. Each situation is different, making it critical to seek legal counsel, but here are some frequently asked questions.



Yes, you can bring a lawsuit for compensatory damages if you were harmed by hazing, and in some cases, punitive damages may also be warranted. Hazing is any activity that is expected of somebody who is joining a group or wants to maintain status in a group that endangers them, degrades them, or humiliates them, regardless of their willingness to participate.


Examples of hazing include willful acts that involve physical injury, mental or emotional harm, degradation, humiliation, forced consumption of food or alcohol or disgusting things, and sexual assault. The following are acts that could give rise to a lawsuit for hazing: 

  • Sexual shaming 
  • Verbal sexual Threats 
  • Physical penetration or violation 
  • Simulation of sex acts 
  • Perpetration of sex acts including gang rape 
  • Forced nudity 
  • Forced, excessive calisthenics 
  • Forced consumption of alcohol, food, or liquids 
  • Participation in sexual rituals or assaults 
  • Whipping, beating, flogging, or paddling 
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Mentally abusive or degrading behavior 
  • Torture and acts that cause physical, emotional, or mental deprivation 
  • Tattooing and branding 
  • Exposure to the elements


Fraternity hazing is particularly notorious for its negative consequences. Hazing may involve sadistic acts cloaked in the language of “tradition” or “rites of passage.” Examples include the requirement that a pledge consume an excessive amount of alcohol, even to the point of a blackout. This can result in falls and physical injuries. Beatings can also result in serious physical injuries. Sometimes military hazing tactics are involved. When a death occurs during fraternity hazing, a family may be able to pursue damages for wrongful death.


Sports hazing is any humiliating or degrading activity that is expected of athletes joining a sports team or staying on a sports team. The activities are considered hazing whether or not the athlete is open to participating.


Yes, hazing is illegal in New York. Another person can be convicted of hazing in the first degree if, while in the course of initiating you into an organization, he or she recklessly or intentionally engages in conduct that generates a substantial risk of physical injury to such other person or a third person and thereby causes injuries. This is a Class A misdemeanor. Someone can be convicted of hazing in the second degree if, while initiating you into an organization or requiring you to maintain affiliation, he or she intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk of physical injury. Evidence gathered in the criminal case can impact a civil lawsuit for damages, even though the two are separate proceedings, so it is very important to consult our attorneys once you realize you have been harmed by hazing.


Sexual hazing is an insidious and very harmful type of hazing. It includes any act that coerces or forces victims to perform sexual acts, simulate sexual acts or perpetrate a sexual act against someone else. For example, if you were required to be gang raped as part of a college organization’s hazing rituals, this would be actionable sexual hazing. For another example, if a coach required you to walk naked past other players and submit to being groped or receiving degrading remarks, this would be sexual hazing.


Red flags that a victim may exhibit after being hazed include unexplained injuries; disrupted patterns of behavior; changes in communication; involvement in activities that would meet the definition of hazing but refer to them as traditions or initiations; not eating meals as usual; changing personal hygiene; chronic fatigue; depression symptoms; secrecy; and unusual photographs posted on social media. Often these red flags appear when the victim joins a new organization, such as a sports team or fraternity. Parents, especially, should be alert to these red flags.


Our New York City attorneys represent those who have been hazed in New York including Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Nassau County. We are also in Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and can help throughout the U.S. Complete our online form or call us at (212) 248-7431 if you believe you or your child may have a claim. We represent clients on a contingency fee basis and provide free consultations.

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