Sexual Harassment by a Co-Worker
Harassment by co-workers can include a wide range of inappropriate conduct. It goes beyond easily recognizable sexual advances or physical contact, and can manifest itself in requests for sexual favors, and other inappropriate verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. This can even include suggestive text messages or sexually themed “joke” emails. In the workplace, the harasser is often in a position of power or authority over the victim, and exploits this position to exert undue influence on the victim. If you have been the victim of inappropriate sexual harassment, contact, or other behavior at work, the New York sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates can help.
Recognizing Co-Worker Sexual Harassment
There are generally two categories of sexual harassment that may be proliferated by co-workers and others in the workplace. The first is referred to as “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, and relates to when employment decisions are contingent upon an employee’s responses to unwelcome sexual conduct. For example, sexual favors may be a condition upon which a promotion will be based. Similarly, a co-worker may threaten to use an employee’s rejection of sexual advances as the basis for a decision to fire, demote, or refuse to promote that employee.
The other, more common form of sexual harassment, is referred to as “hostile work environment” harassment. A hostile work environment is the result of unwelcome physical contact or verbal statements that unreasonably interfere with the victim’s ability to properly perform his or her job, or results in an intimidating, offensive, or otherwise hostile work environment.
Some common examples of co-worker sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to:
- Sexual jokes and comments -- These can include sexual innuendos or stories, whistling, cat calls, lip smacking sounds, lewd jokes, images, videos, sexual comments about a person’s appearance, clothing, or anatomy.
- Unwelcome sexual advances -- Staring in an offensive or suggestive manner, rude or offensive sexual gestures, inappropriate touching or other contact, unwelcome calls, texts, emails, or letters, questions about sexual history.
- Sexual coercion -- Emotional manipulation, using guilt or peer pressure, exploiting a position of power, threat of social isolation, begging, pleading, or flattering, threatening the loss of a job or promotion, buying gifts or spending money to make person feel as though they “owe” sex in return.
- Unlawful touching -- Physical contact with intimate areas, verbal conduct accompanied by inappropriate touching, physical advances, obstructing a victim’s ability to escape from physical contact.
New York and Federal Law Prohibit Sexual Harassment
Under federal law, sexual harassment is treated as a nuanced form of gender discrimination, because the harassing conduct occurs based upon an individual’s gender. All forms of gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, are prohibited by Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment claims are handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). New York State’s Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law also prohibit sexual harassment, and reach a broader variety of employers within New York State, including those not subject to the federal Civil Rights Act due to their size.
A Knowledgeable New York Sexual Harassment Attorney Can Help You Pursue Your Case
Many victims of sexual harassment may feel uncomfortable pursuing their claims because they arise out of the place where they earn a living. Sexual harassment cases are challenging to prove, and require an experienced New York sexual harassment attorney. Testimony in co-worker sexual harassment cases can often devolve into “he said, she said” types of cases, making any documentary evidence or email critical.
The attorneys at Phillips & Associates are sensitive to the difficulties of pursuing a sexual harassment claim against a co-worker, but we firmly believe that no one should have to tolerate unwelcome sexual advances in the workplace. We pride ourselves on being aggressive advocates for our clients, and we have many years of experience handling harassment and discrimination claims of all types. Complete and submit our online Contact Us form or call (866) 229-9441 today to schedule your complimentary and confidential consultation.
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