If you are an employee, you are entitled to work in a place free from sexual harassment. City, state, and federal laws prohibit workplace sexual harassment. The conduct that you believe was sexual harassment must have involved unwelcome behavior. If you are uncertain about your remedies for sexual harassment, you should consult the New York City sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates.Unwelcome Behavior
Sexual harassment can include any unwelcome behavior based on sex, such as physical touching, crude remarks, groping, jokes, inappropriate comments, advances, pranks, images, gestures, and even rape. Unwelcome behavior can constitute sexual harassment, whether it is perpetrated by a man or a woman, and it can be perpetrated by someone of the same sex as you. Often, people assume that they need to deal with unwelcome behavior on the job, or they may fear retaliation if they report the conduct.The New York City Human Rights Law
The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits workplace sexual harassment and is widely considered one of the most protective anti-discrimination laws in the country. Under the city law, a hostile workplace exists if the unwelcome conduct that you experience is more than a petty slight or trivial inconvenience. This is a more relaxed standard than what is imposed by federal law. The court is not allowed to ignore the overall context in which the unwelcome behavior occurred.
Generally, if the sexual harassment involves physical contact by the perpetrator, it will be considered more than a petty slight or trivial inconvenience. Similarly, if the incident involves explicit comments, it is more likely to be considered actionable sexual harassment under the city law. For example, if your supervisor makes unwelcome sexual jokes and performs sexual gestures, you may be able to recover damages for sexual harassment under the city law. For another example, if your coworker touches your hair and rubs your arms and back sexually, and you report it to HR but they do not take steps to provide redress, you may be able to recover damages for sexual harassment.Trivial Inconveniences or Petty Slights
Under the city law, a New York City employer can avoid liability only if it can show that the behavior is not more than what a reasonable employee would consider trivial inconveniences or petty slights. Although the New York City Human Rights Law is protective, your employer may attempt to get your case dismissed by bringing a motion for summary judgment. If the unwelcome behavior involved ambiguous acts, or if there are questions of witness credibility, the jury is supposed to evaluate them to decide whether they constituted sexual harassment; the case should not end with summary judgment.Letting a Perpetrator Know About Unwelcome Conduct
It is important that you make it clear to the perpetrator that his or her sexual behavior is unwelcome. After letting the perpetrator know that the conduct is unwelcome, you should notify HR or follow any grievance procedures for reporting sexual harassment that are outlined in your employment manual.State and Federal Laws
The New York State Human Rights Law applies a similar legal standard to the city law. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law, workplace sexual harassment must be either severe or pervasive to be considered hostile work environment harassment. Our attorneys can analyze your situation to determine whether Title VII would support your claim. Often, a federal sexual harassment claim involves the accumulation of unwelcome harassing behavior over time. In other situations, federal sexual harassment cases may involve a single severe instance of unwelcome behavior, such as sexual assault.Consult an Experienced New York City Attorney About a Sexual Harassment Claim
Sexual harassment may undermine your dignity and result in depression, anxiety, or humiliation. It can have both economic and non-economic consequences, and sometimes it escalates. You should not be made to feel uncomfortable or threatened at work based on your sex. If you are concerned about unwelcome behavior that you believe constitutes sexual harassment, you should call Phillips & Associates. Our employment lawyers represent workers who have been sexually harassed in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, as well as Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Call us at (212) 248-7431 or complete our online form.
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