Sexual Harassment Attorneys in New York City
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Sexual harassment is illegal under federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. Sexual harassment is both physically and emotionally detrimental and can also cause financial issues for the worker who experiences it as documented by Impactly.
Conduct that is considered sexually harassing could include unwelcome sexual or romantic advances, derogatory comments based on a worker’s sex, obscene texts or images or emails, and it can also include requests for sexual favors, and blocking or impeding a worker’s path as a form of intimidation, and crimes like rape or sexual assault.
It is very important that if one feels like that they are being sexually harassed at work that they understand what the company’s policies are regarding harassment and what the appropriate complaint procedure is for them to be fully protected by the law. It is especially important that if someone feels like they are being sexually harassed by a vendor, patron, or independent contractor that they complain to a supervisor or to human resources regarding the contact in order for them to appropriately protected under the law.
Many workers are afraid to report harassment to human resources or file a charge. However, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for complaining of sexual advances or taking legal action.
At Phillips & Associates, Attorneys at Law, we are here to help you level the playing field, to be the powerful and trustworthy New York City harassment lawyer by your side. Call Phillips & Associates about your claim at (914) 533-1509. We have years of experience fighting for workers who have been mistreated in the workplace and seek the best of outcomes in negotiation, mediation, and trial.
What Is Considered Sexual Harassment?
Harassment in the workplace includes any unwelcome and offensive words, gestures, or actions that are of a sexual or romantic nature. The actions that can be defined as such can range dramatically. It can include a boss propositioning an employee, or a manager criminally sexually assaulting a worker during an office holiday party. It may involve sexist behavior by coworkers and supervisors. It could also include sexual advances by supervisors or during the hiring process.
Types of Sexual Harassment
There are two types of harassment: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment.
What Is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?
Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that translates to "something for something" or "this for that." In the context of workplace or sexual harassment, quid pro quo refers to a situation where a person in a position of power or authority makes unwelcome advances or requests of a sexual nature, and in return, offers or threatens certain benefits or consequences related to the victim's employment or education.
There are many situations that may constitute illegal quid pro quo harassment, such as:
- Refusing to hire an employee who will not engage in some kind of sexual activity;
- Firing an employee for rejecting a sexual advance;
- Promoting an employee on the condition that he or she date the supervisor; or
- Giving any kind of benefit in exchange for sexual acts.
Hostile Work Environment
A work environment becomes hostile when conduct or speech makes your workplace environment offensive, hostile, or intimidating to a reasonable person. For example, if a coworker is constantly sending you links to pornography, or your supervisor watches pornography on the job in front of you, this may create a hostile work environment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace may also involve any of the following or some combination of them:
- Sexist Words and Actions
- Sexual Jokes
- Illegal Touching
- Sexual Advances
- Requests for sex
- Sexual Bribery
- Sexual Coercion
- Sexual Gift Giving
- Criminal Sexual Conduct
- Unlawful touching
Many employers also conduct team building exercises away from their principal place of business or hold holiday or office parties. It is crucial to be aware that you may have grounds to bring a workplace harassment lawsuit even if you are away from your employer’s offices if you were engaged in tasks or events that were job-related.
If you are in a hostile work environment or have faced quid pro quo harassment, speak with an experienced harassment lawyer in New York City at Phillips & Associates. Call (914) 533-1509 for a free consultation.
If you believe that you are being sexually harassed on the job, you should find out what your company's policies are and which internal complaint procedures are in place to protect you. In order to be fully protected by the law, you will need to follow those procedures. It may be especially critical to complain to a supervisor or HR if you feel that a vendor, patron, or independent contractor is sexually harassing you.
When the harasser is a coworker, the issue will be whether your employer did anything to correct the situation. An employer may be held strictly liable for a supervisor or manager's sexually harassing conduct.
You should use any internal grievance procedure that is in place to complain about the harassment before filing a charge with the EEOC or suing your employer in state court. It is important to give your employer a chance to correct the situation before suing. Some employers will take immediate steps to correct the situation once they know what is occurring.
- How often it happened;
- Whether the conduct was hostile or obviously offensive;
- Whether the harasser was a coworker or supervisor;
- Whether others besides the defendant also perpetrated the harassment; and
- Whether the harassment was directed at more than one person.
what is considered Workplace Harassment?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the federal law prohibiting sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination, is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Traditionally, the EEOC categorizes sexual harassment as “quid pro quo” or “hostile work environment.” Title VII applies to workplaces with at least 15 employees.
The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law provide broader protection for workers than federal law does. Similar to the city law, which is widely considered one of the most protective civil rights laws in the country, State law specifies that you only need to show that the harassment of which you complain rises above the level or petty slights and trivial inconveniences. In the past, employers were able to defend themselves by arguing that employees had not used their internal complaint procedure, and therefore shouldn’t be able to proceed with their claim. However, under state law, this defense is no longer available.
Consult New York City Sexual Harassment Lawyers Today
The #MeToo movement has increased visibility and public awareness of harassment, but it remains a phenomenon that causes workers who experience it shame and a feeling of degradation. Many workers remain silent, fearful of retaliatory conduct by a powerful employer. At Phillips & Associates, our NYC based lawyers often represent those sexually harassed in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau County, or Suffolk County, or visit one of our other regional offices.
We understand that it is terrifying to face the prospect of losing your job or losing your source of income altogether, and therefore, we represent workers on a contingency fee basis and offer free consultations.
- Define Sex Harassment in the Workplace
- Sexual Harassment Laws
- What Does Sexual Harassment Look Like?
- Sexual Harassment by Industry
- Emoji Sexual Harassment
- Visual Sexual Harassment
- Difference Between Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault
- Sexual Gestures and Signals
- Unwelcome Behavior
- Adult Survivors Act
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Knowledgeable New York City Lawyers Protecting the Rights of Employees
If you receive sexual advances or comments from an employer or coworker, you may experience strong feelings of degradation, humiliation, or depression. Workplace sexual harassment is prohibited under federal, state, and local laws in New York City as a form of sexual or gender-based discrimination. Any form of harassing conduct taken due to your sex may be considered sexual harassment. Sexual harassment does not have to occur at your workplace. It can occur at someone’s home, a conference or other business function such as a happy hour of office party. If you were sexually harassed, you should consult the New York City sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
You can recover damages for quid pro quo harassment, which can be committed only by a supervisor or manager. This type of harassment occurs if your job or an employment benefit is conditioned on your submitting to the harassing conduct. An employer who makes a negative decision affecting your employment because you resisted or complained about sexual harassment can also be held accountable for quid pro quo sexual harassment. For example, if your supervisor asks you on a date and then fires you for saying that you are not attracted to him, he could be held accountable for quid pro quo harassment.
Protections Under the New York City Human Rights Law
The New York City Human Rights Law is one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country, and it prohibits hostile work environment harassment in the workplace. To establish a claim under the New York City Human Rights Law, you would need to show by a preponderance of the evidence that you have been treated less well than other employees due to your sex. The city law is construed broadly because of its remedial purpose. Accordingly, a sexual harassment attorney in New York City would need to meet a lower standard to establish sexual harassment under the city law than the standard under federal or state laws. Any unwelcome sexual behavior in a New York City workplace is illegal, including crude jokes, lewd remarks, or touching. For example, if your supervisor makes jokes about your pubic hair in his soda, this may be sexual harassment. Similarly, if you are at the office holiday party, and the CEO gropes your breasts, this is likely sexual harassment.
Under the New York City Human Rights Law, an employer can be held accountable for a non-supervisor or non-manager’s sexual harassment that creates a hostile work environment if the employer fails to take reasonable steps to eliminate the harassment. Accordingly, it is important to let the employer know that you have been sexually harassed to give the employer a chance to take remedial and prompt action. You may be able to sue for damages if the employer is notified but does not take proper measures to fix the situation.
Federal and State Laws
Most often, the city law offers the best way to seek a remedy if you have been sexually harassed in a New York City workplace, such that the harassment created a hostile work environment. However, if you need to bring your claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the New York State Human Rights Law, your New York City sexual harassment attorney would need to show that the sexual harassment that you faced was either so severe or so pervasive that the workplace was made hostile or abusive.
For example, if you were the only woman in your department, and for two weeks you daily received pornographic memes from your coworkers in that group, and your supervisor was cc’d on these memes, and you wrote an email back and cc’d your supervisor to let them know that it was unwelcome, but they did nothing about it, you may have a claim for sexual harassment under Title VII. Similarly, if you were sexually assaulted by your supervisor, this is likely to be found severe enough to create a hostile work environment.
Consult a Dedicated Sexual Harassment Attorney
When you come to work, you hope to be judged on your work performance, rather than a trait that you cannot control like your sex. Sexual harassment can be emotionally painful, whether it involves a supervisor requesting sexual favors or a coworker who keeps making comments about your body. Sexual harassment litigation can be pursued against employers of all sizes in New York City.
The seasoned New York sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent workers in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, along with Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
New York City Lawyers Fighting for Your Workplace Rights
Workplace sexual harassment is humiliating and degrading. In addition to emotional harm, it can also result in financial losses. If you were subjected to sexual harassment at your job, you may be able to sue to recover damages. There are three laws that may apply to your situation: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. Our New York City sexual harassment lawyers can help you bring a claim under any of these laws that may apply. You can watch the video above to learn more about sexual harassment and your rights.
Sexual Harassment Under Title VII
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination in workplaces of employers that have at least 15 employees. Under Title VII, sexual harassment may include requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, offensive remarks about someone's sex, groping, touching, images, and more. Sexual harassment can occur even if the victim and harasser are the same sex. Although many people assume that harassers are men, a harasser may be a man or woman.
Teasing and offhand remarks are not prohibited. Instead, sexual harassment must be so severe or so frequent that it creates an offensive or hostile work environment, or results in a negative employment decision, such as a victim being demoted or fired. A harasser who creates a hostile work environment can be a supervisor, a manager, a coworker, or even a customer.
Sexual harassment can also be quid pro quo harassment when an authority figure in the workplace, such as a supervisor or manager, tries to exchange benefits for sexual favors. The benefits offered might be hiring, continued employment, a promotion, a raise, or some other change in the terms and conditions of employment.
Sexual Harassment Under State Law
The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits sexual harassment with regard to employers of all sizes. Even an employer with just one employee is not permitted to engage in sexual harassment of that employee. Under the state law, employers can be held strictly liable for employee harassment when the harasser is a high-level manager or owner. Even if other owners and managers are unaware of the harassment, the employer can be held responsible. Employers can only be held strictly liable for harassment by a lower-level manager or supervisor when the supervisor has enough control over the victim's work conditions.
The situation is different for employers if a coworker is the person who perpetrated the harassment. In that case, you can hold the employer liable only if the employer knew or should have known that you were being harassed. In other words, you would need to show the employer's negligence in stopping the harassment. It is important, therefore, to make sure that you let the employer know in writing that you were sexually harassed. That way, you can show notice if the employer does not correct the situation, and you need to sue for harassment.
Sexual Harassment Under the New York City Human Rights Law
Sexual harassment is prohibited as a form of gender discrimination under the New York City Human Rights Law, which is one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country. Under the city law, your attorney can hold a New York City employer liable for illegal discrimination or sexual harassment by an employee if the harasser had supervisory or managerial responsibility, the employer knew about the harassment and did not take appropriate, immediate corrective steps, or the employer should have known about the discrimination and failed to use reasonable diligence to stop it.
Get Advice from an Experienced Employment Attorney in New York City
Our firm understands how stressful and difficult it is to face workplace sexual harassment. If you believe that you have been subjected to sexual harassment at your job, you should consult the employment lawyers at Phillips & Associates.
Contact our New York sexual harassment lawyer at (914) 533-1509 or through our online form for a free consultation. We handle employment litigation throughout New York City, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Gender Discrimination Attorneys for Residents of New York City
There are many state and federal laws that provide workplace protections for employees, particularly when it comes to sexual harassment. We all hope to feel safe and at ease in our workplace, but many employers fail to adhere to these laws, leading to a hostile and unproductive environment. Due to the sensitive nature of these situations, deciding to come forward and try to hold your employer responsible can be a difficult and stressful step to take. The sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates can advise employees in New York City and the surrounding area on bringing these claims.
New York City Protections Against Harassment in the Workplace
Like other cities across the country, New York City experiences many incidences of sexual harassment in the workplace. It has enacted a Human Rights Law, which provides remedies for employees who experience sexual harassment. The New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) can be found at Title 8 of the Administrative Code. According to its provisions, an employee cannot be treated unfairly or differently due to his or her sex, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, pregnancy, or disability. The laws were drawn from a lengthy series of court opinions on the subject of sexual harassment, and they were codified in order to ensure that their requirements could be enforced uniformly and efficiently. The person making the complaint does not need to have been the subject of the sexual harassment. Simply observing instances of sexual harassment in the workplace can create difficulties for everyone in the office.
According to the New York City Human Rights Law, sexual harassment encompasses many different situations and conditions. In general, sexual harassment under the law involves any unwanted sexual advances or unwelcome conduct that affects an individual’s employment in a negative way. This includes any verbal, physical, or visual displays.
The law further defines sexual harassment in two categories. First, sexual harassment can lead to a hostile work environment. This may occur when unwanted sexual behavior or comments create an unpleasant, intimidating, or offensive business atmosphere, or interfere with the employee’s job performance to an unreasonable degree. For example, sexually suggestive innuendos, sexual jokes, and physical gestures may lead to a hostile work environment.
Where an employee seeks to establish a hostile work environment, the employee must prove all of the following:
- A member of a protected class experienced unwelcome harassment;
- The harassment was of a sexual nature;
- The nature of the harassment affected a condition, term, or privilege of employment;
- The conduct was severe and pervasive; and
- The employer knew or should have known that the harassment occurred and failed to take appropriate remedial action.
The second category of sexual harassment includes so-called “quid pro quo” arrangements. In this situation, an employer or employer’s agent requests a sexual favor from an employee in exchange for some employment-related consequence. The consequence can either be positive in nature, such as a promotion, or negative, such as a threat of being fired if the employee refuses. If the employee refuses the sexual advance and is fired, demoted, or given a reduced workload as a result, the employee has suffered workplace retaliation. New York law provides protections for employees who are retaliated against after asserting a protected right, like the right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace.
Contact a New York City Lawyer for a Sexual Harassment Claim
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual harassment in a New York City workplace, the gender discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates can help. Our team of professionals has represented many employees throughout all five boroughs, including the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens, in bringing a claim against an employer for violations of New York City’s sexual harassment laws. We offer a free consultation and do not collect any fees unless we obtain a settlement or a judgment in your favor.
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