Phillips & Associates

Sexual Harassment Laws

Employment Attorneys Representing Workers in New York City

Workplace sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination that violates federal, state, and local laws in New York. Generally, sexual harassment occurs when there is verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature in the workplace. However, the law that you should use to obtain redress depends on the particular circumstances of the harassment. There are certain remedies available by using one law that will not be available if you use another. Certain steps need to be followed when pursuing a remedy under Title VII that need not be followed when using the New York State Human Rights Law or the New York City Human Rights Law. Additionally, not every sexual harassment law applies to every New York City workplace. The employer's size matters. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers can provide knowledgeable counsel and representation to employees harmed by sexual harassment.

Federal Sexual Harassment Laws

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the federal law that prohibits sexual harassment as a kind of sex discrimination. Title VII only applies to employers that have a minimum of 15 employees, including federal, state, and local governments. If your employer only has 14 employees, you cannot pursue relief under Title VII.

Under Title VII, sexual harassment can take the form of hostile work environment harassment or quid pro quo harassment. The former includes any conduct of a sexual nature, including words, signs, jokes, physical violence, or pranks, that are directed toward you due to your sex. The latter, quid pro quo harassment, occurs when your continued employment is conditioned on sexual submission of some sort. If you face either of these types of sexual harassment and want to pursue damages under Title VII, you will need to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

You can recover a range of damages under Title VII, but it is important to realize that these damages will be capped based on the size of your employer.

State Sexual Harassment Laws

The provisions of the New York State Human Rights Law that prohibit sexual harassment apply to every employer in New York City, even though the law generally applies to employers with a minimum of four employees. Under the New York State Human Rights Law, the types of sexual harassment are the same. There are many similarities to Title VII. For example, under the New York State Human Rights Law, sexual harassment can occur between men and women or between people of the same sex, and sexual harassment due to an employee being transgender is also illegal.

However, there are also important differences. For example, while you can recover punitive damages under federal or local law, you cannot recover punitive damages under state law. However, there is no cap on the amount of compensatory damages that you may be able to recover.

New York City Laws

The New York City Human Rights Law is more expansive than federal or state anti-discrimination laws, and it also prohibits sexual harassment. Unlike with the state law, you can recover punitive damages under this law. There are no caps on damages.

It has one of the broadest anti-retaliation provisions of any law in the country. If you complained about workplace sexual harassment, and an adverse action was taken against you, you may have a basis to sue under the New York City Human Rights Law. You only need to have a good-faith reasonable belief that you were sexually harassed and experience an adverse action as a result in order to state a claim for retaliation. In other words, even if the court rules against you on the sexual harassment and finds that you were not sexually harassed, if you had a good-faith belief and were terminated or denied a promotion, or faced another adverse consequence, you may have a strong basis to recover damages for retaliation.

Consult an Experienced New York City Lawyer for Your Harassment Claim

If you have been sexually harassed on the job, you may feel overwhelmed, afraid, and humiliated. However, you likely have options. Our New York City attorneys are sensitive to how painful it is to be sexually harassed and can advise you on your options for legal recourse if you have had to deal with violations of sexual harassment laws in the workplace. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or contact us via our online form for a free consultation. Our attorneys fight employment discrimination in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties and in New Jersey.

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