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Sexual Harassment by Massage Therapists

Civil Rights Attorneys Representing Residents of New York City

When you purchase a massage, you expect to receive a relaxing experience. Unfortunately, sexual harassment by massage therapists does occur in New York City, and it can turn what was supposed to be a pleasant experience into a degrading and humiliating event for the victim of the harassment. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers may be able to help you recover damages through a civil lawsuit.

Sexual Harassment by Massage Therapists

Under the New York City Human Rights Law, it is illegal for someone who owns, is employed by, or provides a public accommodation to refuse another person full and equal enjoyment on equal terms and conditions of any of the accommodations, services, advantages, facilities, or privileges of the place or provider of public accommodations, based on the gender of that person.

Discrimination takes many forms, including sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can occur as unwelcome sexual behavior, words, touches, or gestures. Under case law, sexual harassment is covered by the prohibition against gender discrimination in public accommodations.

Under the New York City Human Rights Law, anybody who is aggrieved by an illegal discriminatory practice under the law has a cause of action to sue for damages, including punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief. Punitive damages are those awarded to punish the defendant and deter future similar misconduct. Injunctive relief is an order to the defendant to do or not do something. Those who are able to sue for damages or injunctive relief include a natural person or natural persons, as well as businesses, partnerships, organizations, group associations, legal representatives, and more.

The New York City Human Rights Law is supposed to be construed liberally so that its remedial purposes can be accomplished. Even if federal and state laws do not prohibit a particular behavior, the situation will still be construed in favor of a plaintiff claiming to be a victim of discrimination to the extent that doing so is reasonably possible.

In addition to being a violation of the New York City Human Rights Law regarding public accommodations, sexual harassment by massage therapists may also be actionable under common law. A civil rights attorney in New York City who is experienced in this area of the law may, for example, allege intentional infliction of emotional distress in addition to assault and battery as further causes of action.

Sexual harassment may also be the subject of a criminal arrest and prosecution. In one example of sexual harassment by a massage therapist, the therapist touched his customer's breasts and put his hands between her legs. When she tried to get away, he grabbed her hand and placed it on his private parts. The therapist was arrested and charged with sexual abuse, forcible touching, and the unauthorized practice of a profession.

What is discovered in a criminal investigation can have an impact on a civil case. However, the procedures for pursuing criminal charges are wholly separate from the procedures for a civil claim for sexual harassment. There is a much higher burden of proof in the criminal case, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt instead of simply by the preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). While a prosecuting attorney may elect not to pursue criminal charges for a variety of reasons, or the defendant may be acquitted of the criminal charge, it may still be possible to obtain remedies from the same defendant based on the same conduct because of the lower standard of proof applicable to a civil sexual harassment case.

Bring a Claim with the Assistance of a New York City Attorney

At Phillips & Associates, our sexual harassment lawyers help clients with many different kinds of harassment cases, including improper conduct by massage therapists, gym employees, doctors, and dentists. If you believe that you have been a victim of discrimination or harassment in New York City, contact us at (833) 529-3476 or through our online form for a free consultation. We handle litigation in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties and in many areas of New Jersey.

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