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Sexual Harassment in Public Spaces

New York City Attorneys Dedicated to Protecting Civil Rights

When you go to an establishment that is open to the public, you are entitled to be free from sexual harassment by the owner or the owner's employees. Sexual harassment can be degrading, humiliating, and deeply distressing. It can be experienced by either sex, and by people of any sexual orientation or gender identity. The New York City Human Rights Law provides you with protection. If you faced sexual harassment in a public space by an owner or employee of a public accommodation, you may have a basis to file a lawsuit. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers are available to help you.

Take Legal Action After Sexual Harassment in a Public Space

The New York City Human Rights Law, which is Title 8 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, forbids discrimination in many different areas of New York City based on many protected classes, including gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Gender is one's actual or perceived sex, and it can also include the expression of gender, appearance, behavior, and self-image. It does not matter whether your gender identity is different from what is conventionally associated with the sex assigned to you at birth. You are entitled to protection against discrimination in public accommodations such as stores, banks, medical offices, dental practices, hair salons, hotels, hospitals, government agencies, theaters, restaurants, taxis, and schools.

Harassment motivated by your gender is one kind of discrimination. In some cases, sexual harassment is a single incident, while in other situations, it involves repeated acts or behaviors. It may include unwanted touching, comments, gestures, jokes, or images that target you based on your gender. The critical issue is whether you were treated less well than others based on your gender. If there is differential treatment based on gender, that is enough to constitute sexual harassment under city law, although the severity or pervasiveness of the sexual harassment can be relevant to the damages that are awarded.

It is illegal for providers of public accommodations, as well as their employees and agents, to deny you the privileges, services, advantages, or facilities of a public accommodation indirectly or directly simply because of your actual or perceived gender, including your actual or perceived status as a transgender person. The New York City Human Rights Law forbids discriminatory harassment or violence that is based on your actual or perceived gender, or your gender identity or expression.

If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment by the provider of a public accommodation or its employee or agent, you can report the discriminatory harassment to the New York City Commission on Human Rights. You should also report any violent bias-related criminal act (such as assault and battery or rape) to the police. Any criminal case that may be filed against the perpetrator for sexual abuse, assault, or rape is distinct from the civil case, however. Whether or not a criminal case is being pursued, your attorney can also file a civil lawsuit based on a violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. It may be appropriate to allege additional common law causes of action.

The New York City Human Rights Commission has the power to impose a civil penalty. But by filing a civil lawsuit, you may be able to recover damages. These may include punitive damages, which are damages awarded to punish the defendant and deter similar misconduct in the future. Additionally, it may be possible to obtain injunctive relief, which might consist of an order telling the defendant public accommodation to refrain from sexual harassment of customers and others so that others do not need to experience what you experienced.

Discuss Your Sexual Harassment Case with a New York City Lawyer

Anyone who lives in or visits New York City has the right to frequent public accommodations safely and without fearing harassment based on their sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys help clients with cases based on many different kinds of harassment, including sexual harassment in public spaces. If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment, contact us at (833) 529-3476 or through our online form for a free consultation. We handle cases in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties and in New Jersey.

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