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Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, including text messages and emails. The harasser can be supervisor, a co-worker, or in some instances, someone who is not an employee. Often, the harasser is in a position of power or authority over the victim. Sexual harassment can lead to retaliation after a person rejects sexual advances. If you have been subjected to improper sexual conduct at work, contact the New York sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates.

Sexual Harassment Includes:

Workplace sexual harassment can occur even outside of the office, such as a holiday/office party. Some industries, such as the as the fashion industry, are particularly susceptible to sexual harassment in subtle but poisonous ways. For more information on recognizing sexual harassment, read our Sexual Harassment FAQs.

New York and Federal Law Prohibit Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is considered a form of gender discrimination, because it is harassing conduct that occurs because of an individual’s gender. Gender discrimination in all its forms, including sexual harassment, is 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 much smaller employers than the Civil Rights Act. In 2010, 11,717 sexual harassment claims were filed with the EEOC across the country.

How to Recognize Workplace Sexual Harassment

The EEOC groups sexual harassment into two main categories. The first is called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. This happens where submitting to unwelcome sexual conduct is made the basis for employment decisions – such as requiring sexual favors in order to grant a promotion. Similarly, when rejection of sexual advances forms the basis for a decision to fire, demote, or refuse to promote an employee, quid pro quo sexual harassment has occurred. This type of harassment results in an economic loss to the victim. A pattern of favoritism to one gender based on the granting of sexual favors can create quid pro quo harassment of members of either gender.

The more common form of sexual harassment is the second category, called “hostile work environment” harassment. A hostile work environment exists where unwelcome verbal or physical conduct unreasonably interferes with the victim’s ability to do his or her job, or creates an offensive, intimidating, or hostile working environment. Even general, non-sexual comments – such as comments about one gender – can create a hostile work environment where the comments are frequent or severe. Minor isolated incidents or harmless lighthearted teasing do not amount to a hostile work environment. If you are uncertain, it can be helpful to consult with an attorney to get an idea of whether the conduct at issue is so offensive as to constitute a hostile work environment.

Sexual harassment does not always follow expected patterns. Men can easily be the victim of sexual harassment. Between 1997 and 2010, the percentage of harassment charges filed with the EEOC by men has risen from approximately 12% to 16%. Sexual harassment can also occur between members of the same sex, based on unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature or patterns of favoring the opposite sex for inappropriate reasons. Anyone affected by the improper conduct can be a victim, not just the person directly subject to harassing conduct, and harassment can take place without any economic injury to the victim.

Phillips & Associates: Experienced New York Sexual Harassment Attorneys

Sexual harassment cases are difficult, and require an experienced New York sexual harassment attorney. There is inevitably a high level of discomfort in testifying about the facts of harassment, and often sexual harassment cases involve “he said, she said” types of testimony, making credibility and any documentary evidence or email critical. While retaliation based on pursuing a sexual harassment claim is prohibited, the workplace may remain uncomfortable.

At Phillips & Associates, we understand the difficulties of pursuing a sexual harassment claim, but we also know that no one should have to tolerate unwelcome sexual advances in the workplace. We are aggressive advocates for our clients, and have substantial experience in harassment and discrimination claims. For a free, confidential consultation, contact us today at (833) 529-3476.

New York Employment Attorney Blog - Sexual Harassment
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