Sexual Orientation Harassment
New York City Lawyers Fighting for Employee Rights
In the workplace, you should not be treated adversely regarding promotions, layoffs, or any other employment action based on your choice of partner or the gender to which you are most attracted. Whether you are bisexual, gay, lesbian, or heterosexual, your sexual orientation should not be the basis for any employment decision. It is illegal for your employer to permit harassment against you based on your sexual orientation. If you were subject to this type of mistreatment, the New York City sexual orientation harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates can help you bring a lawsuit for damages.
State and local laws provide express protection against sexual orientation harassment in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has set forth in its guidelines that sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination, which is prohibited; however, federal courts have not fully agreed on this matter.
Protections Under the New York City Human Rights Law
The New York City Human Rights Law expressly prohibits sexual orientation harassment. To establish sexual orientation harassment in the workplace, you will need to show that you were treated less well than others due to your sexual orientation. Harassment may be instigated due to a perpetrator’s homophobia. However, it is important to note that the person who perpetrates the harassment may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual.
Harassment can include crude comments, offensive statements, taunting about a spouse or partner, verbal attacks, sexual assault, improper touching, or unfair performance evaluations. For example, if your supervisor calls you slurs or derogatory names based on your perceived sexual orientation, a sexual orientation harassment attorney in New York City can help you sue. Similarly, if your coworkers send you degrading or sexually explicit memes about your sexual orientation, or if your manager propositions you for sexual favors, this may be sexual orientation harassment. Threats of forced physical contact based on your sexual orientation can also be sexual orientation harassment. If you were raped or otherwise physically assaulted based on your sexual orientation, you can file criminal charges along with bringing a harassment lawsuit.
Protections Under the New York Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act
The New York Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act ("SONDA") is the state law that prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. Under this state law, sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality. You are protected under this law if you are harassed due to your actual sexual orientation or your perceived sexual orientation.
To show a hostile work environment under the state law, your New York City sexual orientation harassment attorney will need to show that the harassing behavior, whether it consisted of insults or intimidation or ridicule, permeated your workplace, such that it was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter your conditions of employment. Your work environment must have been made objectively hostile; that is, it must have been hostile enough that a reasonable person would find it so. If a manager repeatedly uses anti-gay slurs toward you for several months and makes regular remarks that show contempt for gay people, this may be actionable sexual orientation harassment under state law. If your coworkers corner you in the office and beat you up because they perceive you as gay, this is likely to be considered sexual orientation harassment.
If you have been harassed based on your sexual orientation, whether actual or perceived, you should let HR or your supervisor know. You should follow any procedures for notice that are outlined in your employment handbook, and generally you should provide written, dated notice. You want to give your employer a chance to rectify the situation. If your employer does not remedy the situation, it may be appropriate to sue for damages.
Contact a Sexual Orientation Harassment Lawyer in New York City
Sexual orientation harassment can be emotionally devastating. If you have faced sexual orientation harassment in New York City, you should hire knowledgeable legal counsel. The employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent workers in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, along with Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Contact us at (866) 229-9441 or via our online form.
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