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Unwelcome touching or grabbing is one of the most common and traumatic forms of workplace physical harassment. This form of harassment can leave physical and mental damages and prevent employees from doing their jobs or wanting to return to work, which is why speaking to a New York City workplace unwanted touching lawyer is crucial.

Federal and New York state anti-discrimination laws make unwelcome touching in the workplace illegal. Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace shouldn’t be afraid of employer retaliation when coming forward about unwanted conduct. An experienced New York City workplace unwanted touching lawyer can help stop the problem and obtain financial compensation for damages.

When Is Physical Touching Considered Harassment?

What one person feels is friendliness or an expression of affection may be what another perceives as workplace harassment in New York City. It can be difficult to draw the line between what’s illegal and what’s legal. Typically, touching crosses the line to discrimination and harassment if it’s unwelcome, inappropriate, or violent. If touching makes you feel uncomfortable or victimized in the workplace, it’s harassment—whether it’s a manager massaging your shoulders without you asking or a physical confrontation in the break room.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines harassment loosely. Harassment is unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s characteristics (such as race, age, sexual orientation or gender) that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, abusive, or hostile work environment. From this definition, many forms of touching can qualify as harassment if it’s unwanted and makes a workplace hostile:

  • Hand holding
  • Inappropriate physical contact
  • Massaging
  • Groping
  • Unwanted sexual contact
  • Physical assaults

The courts most likely won’t see an annoyance or non-severe isolated incident as illegal, but a severe unwelcome touching incident or an ongoing trend of smaller incidents is harassment. If you’re unsure whether you have a case of physical or sexual harassment at work, don’t hesitate to contact an NYC unwanted touching lawyer at Joseph & Norinsberg LLC, for a free consultation about your case.

What To Do About Inappropriate Touching At Work

If you have been a victim of workplace sexual harassment, you are not alone. According to a 2018 study conducted by McKinsey’s and LeanIn.org, about 35 percent of women surveyed have suffered sexual harassment at some point during their careers. Despite this high percentage, few cases of sexual harassment are actually reported. It can be intimidating and uncomfortable to report this type of unwelcome behavior, and victims are often afraid to lose their jobs in retaliation.

But victims of sexual harassment, including inappropriate touching at work, have rights. Follow the steps below to put an end to the inappropriate touching and create a safer work environment for everyone.

  • Keep a record of each incident, noting the date and time it occurred, as well as any potential witnesses and additional details. This will help to establish a timeline, which will be valuable if you decide to report the harassment or file a lawsuit.
  • Tell the harasser that the behavior is unwelcome. With unwanted touching that is not explicitly predatory or sexual, it’s occasionally a matter of misunderstanding. For example, if a supervisor puts his hand on your shoulder and this makes you uncomfortable, consider telling him so. If the unwelcome touching continues despite this request, you may need to report the behavior to your employer or file a complaint with the EEOC.
  • Seek legal counsel. An experienced unwelcome touching attorney can help you determine if the behavior constitutes sexual harassment, file a charge with the EEOC, and protect you against employer retaliation.

What Are My Rights In New York City?

As an employee in NYC, the NYC Human Rights Law and Title VII in the Civil Rights Act protect you legally in the event of unwelcome touching or grabbing. Both are anti-discrimination laws that outline what constitutes harassment and how the state will handle such cases. Thanks to these laws and others, you have the right to take a harasser to court for physical, emotional, and financial damages.

The moment you become a victim of unwelcome touching or grabbing at work, speak up about the incident. File a complaint with human resources or the department in charge of this subject. Follow your company’s protocol for harassment (if it has one) and try to solve the problem internally first. It’s possible that your harasser didn’t realize his or her actions were inappropriate or making you feel uncomfortable.

If your workplace does nothing to prevent or stop unwelcome touching or your harasser continues his or her misconduct, you can file a sexual harassment claim with the EEOC in New York City. The EEOC will investigate your case, put an end to harassment, and enable you to hire a lawyer if your situation calls for litigation. Your most powerful option to fight against unwelcome touching or grabbing in the workplace is to hire a New York City unwanted touching lawyer.

Frequently Asked Questions About Unwanted Touching At Work

What is Considered Inappropriate Touching In The Workplace?

Although certain types of unwanted touching are obviously inappropriate, the touch doesn’t have to be overtly sexual to be considered inappropriate. As in the earlier example of the supervisor putting his hand on your shoulder, if the touch makes you uncomfortable, it is inappropriate. From brushing against your body or standing uncomfortably close to outright groping, inappropriate touch is unacceptable, and the person doing the harassing should be held accountable.

Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid touching anyone at work. When it comes to physical contact, co-workers should be regarded as strangers. While an isolated high-five after a big sports win might be one of the few exceptions to this rule, people should keep their hands to themselves while on the job.

In short, yes. Any unwelcome touching can be considered sexual harassment if it creates a hostile work environment. While an isolated incident of brushing up against an employee may not qualify as sexual harassment, repeatedly doing so likely does. This is especially true if the person engaged in the behavior has been asked to stop.

In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to tell coworkers or a supervisor that you don’t want to be touched, but in the real world, you may find yourself having to explain that you prefer not to be hugged, or that you don’t like when your supervisor hovers over you. Politely asking the person to stop will usually end the behavior. When it continues despite your request, however, you may need to report the behavior to human resources. You may also wish to go directly to human resources or another supervisor if you feel uncomfortable confronting the individual directly. If the behavior continues, contact an unwanted touching lawyer to explore your options.

Contact a New York City Unwanted Touching Attorney Today

Unwanted touching or grabbing can be emotionally distressing, leading to failure to perform your job duties, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and withdrawal. When someone infringes on your rights with inappropriate touching, you may be able to take the culprit to court. When you need an expert New York City sexual harassment lawyer, trust Joseph & Norinsberg, LLC. Our experienced team has handled over 100 cases and won numerous multi-figure settlements for harassed employees. Use our online contact form or call 212-227-5700 today to speak with an attorney.

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Our Workplace Harassment Case Results
$1.35 MILLION

Sexual harassment case against a luxury brand in the fashion industry (confidential).

$750,000

Secured compensation for several years of lost wages, and emotional distress, and compensation for the physical assault.

$500,000

Sexual harassment case settled against a large bio-tech company.

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