Phillips & Associates

Sexual Harassment at the Gym

New York City Lawyers Protecting Your Rights in Public Spaces

Anyone who visits or lives in New York City is entitled to do so free from discrimination and discriminatory harassment. The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits sexual harassment in public accommodations. Discriminatory harassment can include intimidation, coercion, violence, or threats that interfere with someone's constitutional or civil rights, when this conduct is motivated at least partly by the victim's actual or perceived sex, gender identity, or gender expression. If you face sexual harassment at the gym, you may be able to recover damages. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers may be able to counsel and represent you in a lawsuit.

Sexual Harassment at the Gym

The New York City Human Rights Law forbids gender discrimination in public accommodations such as gyms. Sexual harassment is one form of gender discrimination. Another is a failure to provide goods and services based on gender.

Sexual harassment can involve a single episode of harassment, while in other situations, it can involve a series of harassing behaviors and acts. It could include unwelcome sexual advances, gestures, jokes, innuendoes, derogatory remarks, or the display of images that target you due to your sex. However, how severe or pervasive the sexual harassment is could affect which damages are awarded. The more serious the harassment, the greater the punitive damages that your attorney is likely to obtain.

In one case brought under the New York City Human Rights Law, the defendant was a sports club sued for sexual harassment. The plaintiff, a gay man who had belonged to the gym for four years, was harassed with homophobic slurs in the sauna by either a member or an employee. He and the others who were harassed were not engaged in sexual activity and were using the sauna appropriately. A gym janitor looked through the glass and called the plaintiff and the others inside the sauna disgusting homosexuals. The plaintiff felt threatened, and when they tried to leave, the man blocked their efforts to leave. All the while, anti-gay epithets were thrown at him. Another employee watched without intervening.

The plaintiff alleged assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law. The gym filed a motion to try to get the case dismissed on the ground that the complaint did not allege any facts to support the plaintiff's claim that he had suffered from discrimination based on sexual orientation or that he had been denied the privileges of membership at the gym. Among other things, the appellate court rejected the gym's argument that the plaintiff's isolated single incident was not enough to establish a pattern of discriminatory practice. It also rejected the argument that the plaintiff had failed to allege that somebody who was a supervisor was aware of the incident. The plaintiff was allowed to proceed with his New York City Human Rights Law and state law claims, as well as his assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims.

If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment by the owner, employee, or agent of your gym, you can report it to the New York City Commission on Human Rights. If assault or battery was involved, the harassment should also be reported to the police. Even if no criminal charges are pursued, you can bring a civil lawsuit under the New York City Human Rights Law. In some cases, it may also be appropriate to assert common law causes of action, such as assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Remedies that may be available in a civil lawsuit include punitive damages and injunctive relief.

Discuss Your Harassment Case with a New York City Attorney

At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys help clients with many different kinds of sexual harassment claims, including those based on sexual harassment at the gym. If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment, contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form for a free consultation. We handle harassment litigation in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties and New Jersey.

PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES
45 Broadway, #620,
New York NY, 10006
Tel: 212-248-7431
Fax: 212-901-2107
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