Workplace Sexual Advances in Nassau County
The total population of Nassau County in 2016 was 1,361,500 people, and women made up about 51% of this population. Although they are a slight majority, they still often face mistreatment in the workplace, sometimes in the form of sexual advances. Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the New York State Human Rights Law prohibit sexual harassment, which is a form of sex discrimination. Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome physical or verbal behavior that is of a sexual nature. Sexual attraction in the workplace is common. However, there is a distinction between an invited or welcomed sexual advance and a harassing sexual advance. This distinction can be a bit blurry in a work setting, particularly at events where alcohol is consumed. It is crucial for employers to protect the rights of employees to work in a place that is free from sexual harassment. At Phillips & Associates, our Nassau County sexual harassment attorneys are aggressive employment litigators who represent people who have been victims of workplace sexual advances.Take Legal Action Based on Workplace Sexual Advances
The distinction between different types of sexual advances is crucial. Sexual advances in the workplace may be invited, not invited but welcome, offensive but tolerated, or flatly rejected. Under EEOC guidance for enforcement of Title VII, sexual advances are only illegal if they are unwelcome. The employee claiming to have been sexually harassed must not have solicited or incited the sexual advance, and they must have seen the actions as offensive or undesirable.
Often, the evidence surrounding sexual advances is conflicting. It may involve completely conflicting accounts about whether the advance was invited by the victim or not. If the situation is analyzed by the EEOC, the totality of the circumstances will be examined. If there is an issue about credibility or a suggestion that the advances were welcomed, your claim will be stronger if you made a contemporaneous protest or complaint. This takes into account the discomfort of challenging the behavior of your coworker or supervisor in the workplace, as well as the possibility that you might be too shocked to protest in the exact moment that the advance occurred.
Although the EEOC will take into account that there was a contemporaneous complaint filed, you should let the harasser know that the advances are unwelcome. This is especially true if you previously had a relationship with the harasser, or there is some other reason for the harasser to believe that the advances are welcome, rather than unwelcome. In some cases, harassment stops when a victim confronts the harasser. You should also follow any internal complaint mechanism that your employer has put in place. Often, a complaint mechanism is detailed in an employment handbook. If it is not in your case, you should notify HR in writing of what happened and explain that it was not welcome. Your notification can be evidence that your version of what happened is true, which can be useful for your attorney in bringing a claim later if needed.
If there is a question about whether or not the sexual advances were welcome, the EEOC investigation will look at whether your actions were consistent or inconsistent with claims that it was unwelcome. Even voluntary submission to sexual advances does not necessarily defeat a claim of sexual harassment. Instead, the issue is whether you indicated through your actions that the sexual advances were unwelcome. Courts have considered whether victims welcomed conduct by examining whether they solicited the actions, used sexual language, or acted in a sexually aggressive way. For example, in one case in which the plaintiff regularly asked her male coworkers about their marital sex lives and whether they had committed adultery, the court rejected her claim of bing sexually harassed. It found that any propositions or advances by coworkers were prompted by her own sexually explicit speech and aggressiveness. However, the occasional use of sexually explicit words will not necessarily defeat a claim that the advances were unwelcome.
You may be afraid that if you complain about sexual advances, there will be repercussions or some sort of retaliation by your employer. For example, if you complain to HR that your supervisor subjected you to sexual advances, you may be worried that you will be fired, demoted, or transferred to a less prestigious department. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you under both Title VII and the New York State Human Rights Law. This does not mean that a retaliatory act will not happen, but you may be able to recover damages if you have a good-faith belief that you have been sexually harassed, and you were subjected to retaliation for reporting it.Enlist a Nassau County Attorney for a Workplace Harassment Case
At Phillips & Associates, our experienced employment litigators can evaluate your situation if you encountered workplace sexual advances in Nassau County. Call us at (516) 365-3731 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so we charge no upfront fees to our clients.
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