Sexual Harassment in the Media Industry
Although newspapers, magazines, and television news programs often focus on sexual harassment in other workplaces, it is still a pervasive presence in the media industry. At Phillips & Associates, our sexual harassment attorneys understand that people in New York City and elsewhere may be fearful of reporting unlawful conduct by a colleague or employer. We offer thorough, compassionate, and aggressive representation in asserting the rights of employees.Holding an Employer in the Media Industry Liable for Improper Conduct
Sexual harassment is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, New York State’s Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. Under Title VII, a federal law, sexual harassment is a type of discrimination that happens on the job due to the victim's gender. However, both men and women may be victims of this behavior. Sexual harassment may include a coworker asking for sex, a boss using sexual bribery, a cameraman who engages in sexist comments, or unlawful touching by anyone in the workplace. In some cases, it can also include inappropriate behavior by those being interviewed for a news story.
Title VII claims are investigated and handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In order to bring a lawsuit for damages, you would first need to file a charge with the EEOC within 180 days from the date of the harassment. This deadline is extended to 300 days when state or local anti-discrimination laws also cover the charge.
Usually it is helpful to consult with an experienced lawyer before filing a charge. After investigating the situation, the EEOC may choose to ask the employer to participate in conciliation. If this does not resolve the problem, the agency may sue the employer in federal court. In other cases, the EEOC may dismiss the charge, which does not necessarily reflect the merits of the case. A dismissal leaves the victim free to pursue his or her own sexual harassment lawsuit for damages. During the discovery process, further evidence supporting the victim's claims may turn up.Sexual Harassment in the Workplace is Illegal.
There are two forms of sexual harassment in the workplace: hostile work environment and quid pro quo harassment. The former tends to be more common than the latter. A hostile work environment exists if sexual misconduct or comments are either very severe or so pervasive that they interfere with your ability to do your job. For example, if the crew repeatedly makes unwelcome sexual comments to a news anchor before she goes on air, and the employer does nothing to stop it, this is likely a hostile work environment. However, offhand remarks or lighthearted teasing generally do not amount to a hostile work environment.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs if an authority figure, such as a producer, offers to take or not take an employment action if an employee performs a sexual favor. For example, if the editor at a magazine says he will give a journalist a desirable assignment for sleeping with him, this would be considered quid pro quo sexual harassment. Similarly, if an interviewee offers to give a reporter a bigger scoop if he has sex with her, and the employer encourages the reporter to follow through, this probably would also be quid pro quo sexual harassment.
You likely will be entitled to recover damages if you have been sexually harassed. In general, you should first notify HR or your employer of the wrongful conduct to see if proper steps are taken to stop it. In some cases, filing a report about sexual harassment leads to employer retaliation, which is also illegal and may give rise to further damages.Protect Yourself from Sexual Harassment by Consulting a New York City Attorney
All too often, sexual harassment in the media industry goes unreported and unaddressed because victims worry they will be ostracized if they speak out. The only way to rectify this problem within the industry is to report harassment and pursue damages. You should consult a knowledgeable gender discrimination lawyer if your rights have been infringed in a New York City workplace. Call Phillips & Associates at (212) 248-7431 or contact us through our online form for a free consultation. We serve employees across the five boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. We also handle sexual harassment cases in Westchester County and Long Island.
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