Sexual Harassment in Retail Stores
It is illegal for those who provide public accommodations in New York City to deny or say that they intend to deny the services, advantages, privileges, or facilities of their public accommodation to someone due to their gender, gender expression, or gender identity. Sexual harassment is one form of gender discrimination. If you were a victim of sexual harassment in a retail store, you may have a basis to bring a claim or lawsuit. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers are committed to fighting for victims of harassment, and we may be able to counsel and represent you.Sexual Harassment in Retail Stores
Many people do not realize that retail stores, since they are held out to the public, are considered a public accommodation. Under the New York City Human Rights Law, you are entitled to be free from sexual harassment in any public space, including retail stores. You are protected by this law whether you are a resident of the City or a visitor.
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that can include intimidation, threats, coercion, offensive and derogatory remarks, or violence that interferes with your civil or constitutional rights and is motivated in part by your actual or perceived sex or gender identity. It can involve unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, jokes, pictures, gestures, or simply refusing to use a transgender person's preferred name or pronoun.
Gender-based harassment may involve an isolated, serious incident of disparate treatment or repeated acts or behavior. For example, if a retail store clerk raped you in the changing room, this would be a single incident, but it would still constitute harassment. Meanwhile, if you repeatedly go to a retail store, and the clerks there catcall you, inappropriately touch you, and refuse to stop making sexually tinged remarks, this may also be considered sexual harassment. The severity or the frequency of the harassment will be relevant to the damages that your lawyer can recover, but simply facing differential treatment based on gender is enough to constitute harassment.
Sexual harassment can occur even if the perpetrator and the victim in the retail store are the same sex. It can also occur if the victim is intersex, transgender, or gender non-conforming. For example, if employees at a clothing store repeatedly make fun of your appearance because you are gender non-conforming, this may constitute sexual harassment. Similarly, if a corner storeowner keeps touching you inappropriately, this may also constitute sexual harassment.
Sometimes harassment is based on an individual's failure to conform to sex stereotypes, which are oversimplified ideas about how people of a specific gender or sex should act. They could include an expectation about how you act, your clothes, your hairstyle, your mannerisms, your voice, or your body characteristics. Public accommodations such as retail stores cannot require you to conform to sex stereotypes or make derogatory comments based on their perception that you do not conform. For example, it could be sexual harassment for an electronics store to use anti-gay epithets against you when talking to you, based on your non-conformity with sex stereotypes.
You can file a claim with the New York City Human Rights Commission, which is authorized to impose a civil penalty. Moreover, you may also have a basis to sue for damages by bringing a civil lawsuit that alleges common law causes of action in addition to the violation of city law. Remedies could include punitive damages to punish the retail store and deter similar future misconduct. Sometimes a court will impose injunctive relief, such as an order requiring the defendant to stop sexually harassing customers and provide sexual harassment training to store employees.Hire a New York City Attorney to Pursue a Harassment Claim
At Phillips & Associates, our attorneys help clients with many different kinds of sexual harassment cases, including those based on sexual harassment in retail stores. If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment, contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form to set up a free consultation. We also handle employment litigation in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties and in New Jersey.
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