Reporting workplace sexual harassment to the right authorities can be one of the hardest steps to take, but it’s also the most important. A 2016 study by the EEPC Select Task Force, showed that 60% of women say they experience “unwanted sexual attention, sexual coercion, sexually crude conduct, or sexist comments” in the workplace, however, 90% of employees who experience harassment never file a formal complaint, and 75% never complain to their employers. If you have experienced any form of sexual harassment in an NYC workplace, it’s important to speak to a New York City sexual harassment lawyer about your situation as soon as possible.
Many employees are too afraid to speak out against sexual harassment, file a complaint with human resources, or contact an attorney to file a New York City sexual harassment claim. Employees fear retaliation in New York City, including being fired or demoted because they report the problem. Fortunately, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes retaliation against employees who report sexual harassment or discrimination illegal. While understanding the laws may be complicated, an NYC sexual harassment attorney knows the gritty details that are associated and can help in the case of harassment in the office.
What is Sexual Harassment in New York City?
According to New York City law, it is unlawful to harass a person who is an applicant or employee because of that person’s sex. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Though these are the common ways a person can be sexually harassed, sexual harassment can also include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. Unfortunately, sexual harassment can take many forms and it can happen anywhere. It is important to note that the person bringing suit does not have to be the victim, but can be anyone who was affected by the offensive conduct. In most instances, a sexual harasser is someone who is in a position of power or authority and in 2014 the EEOC recorded 31.2% of cases that were held before it consisted of sex discrimination. To break this number down further, three in ten cases before the EEOC were sex discrimination cases.
What Are The Types Of Workplace Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can take many forms, and the associated actions can range from subtle to overt. In some cases, the harassment goes unreported because the victim is afraid to overreact. Although the unwanted behavior makes them uncomfortable, they don’t know if it rises to the level of illegal harassment. If you are unsure whether you are being sexually harassed at work, the information below can help. If you are still unsure, it is never too early to speak with a sexual harassment lawyer.
What is quid pro quo harassment?
When someone believes that their job will be in jeopardy if they don’t submit to unwelcome sexual advances or tolerate unwelcome sexual behaviors or remarks, they may be a victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment. If, for example, Brenda’s supervisor promises to promote her if she goes away with him for the weekend, or threatens to fire her if she doesn’t tolerate his groping, these are both examples of quid pro quo harassment. When job security is tied to sexual advances, this is workplace sexual harassment.
What is a hostile work environment?
A work environment may be deemed hostile when someone’s discriminatory actions or behavior creates an uncomfortable environment for the person being discriminated against. This can occur based on the victim’s race, religion, disability, sex, or their membership in another protected category. When sex-based discrimination negatively impacts a worker’s job performance, confidence, or overall wellbeing, this may be indicative of a hostile work environment resulting from sexual harassment. Although isolated incidents generally are not enough to constitute a hostile work environment, offensive conduct that is severe and pervasive, is. An NYC hostile workplace lawyer can help.
How To Strengthen Your Sexual Harassment Claim
If you are a victim of workplace sexual harassment, there are steps you can take to end the harassment, protect your rights, and ensure a favorable outcome if you decide to file a complaint with the EEOC or bring forth a lawsuit.
1- Document as much as possible. Keep a log book, detailing every incident, including the date and time it occurred, and if there were any witnesses. It’s a good idea to keep the log book in your car, at home, or anywhere outside of the workplace. In addition to substantiating your claim and preserving memories, keeping a log book will help to create an accurate timeline of the events. Important details may include:
- Specific details of each event, including photos or images, inappropriate jokes or comments, and threats of adverse employment actions;
- Copies of emails, notes, voicemails, memos, and any other relevant communications;
- Names and titles of those involved, including the harasser and any potential witnesses;
- Date, time, and location of the event; and
- Details about how you handled the situation, including whether you confronted your harasser or told anyone else what happened.
2- Communicate to your harasser that their actions or behaviors are unwelcome. Although in 2021, no supervisor or co-worker should have to be told that sexually-harassing behaviors are unacceptable (and illegal), this type of misconduct still occurs with shocking frequency. Unless you are uncomfortable doing so, tell the individual that you do not like their comments, touches, stares, sexual advances, or tendency to hover over you. If the behavior stops immediately and never resumes, no further action may be needed. However, if their unwanted actions continue despite your request, you may need to speak with human resources, file a complaint with the EEOC, or contact an NYC sexual harassment lawyer.
3- Seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in workplace sexual harassment claims can thoroughly review your case to determine how to proceed. Your sexual harassment lawyer can then help you gather evidence to substantiate your claim, file a claim with the EEOC, and bring a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties, if necessary. With legal representation by your side, you can protect yourself against employer retaliation and obtain the compensation you deserve for any damages suffered.
What are the Sexual Harassment Laws in New York?
Sexual harassment in New York City is a form of sex discrimination that violates federal employment discrimination law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as New York State’s Human Rights Law and New York City’s Human Rights Law. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees including state and local governments, employment agencies and labor organizations, and the federal government. New York State’s Human Rights Law and the New York City’s Human Rights Law prohibit sexual harassment and reach much smaller employers than the Civil Rights Act.
Sexual Harassment will be considered under the totality of the circumstances when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, it unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or when it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. If any of the above occurs, it is important for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. Also, the victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system that is available to the victim. If you are experiencing sexual harassment at your workplace and are in need of legal support contact New York City sexual harassment lawyer today.
How Sexual Harassment Can Occur in the Workplace
- The victim, as well as the harasser, may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex from the harasser. Same-sex harassment also occurs in the workplace.
- The harasser may be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or a non-employee, such as a vendor or a customer.
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
- Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
- The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
Speak Up Against Sexual Harassment In The Workplace
Don’t hesitate to speak out if you have felt victimized in the New York City workplace. The earlier you speak with an NYC sexual harassment lawyer the better. Some forms of workplace harassment include:
There are formal and informal steps you can take to shed light on any form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Formal steps such as filing a lawsuit with a New York City sexual harassment lawyer may be your best option, but you can try informal actions first if you feel comfortable doing so. First, if you feel safe, let the harasser know you find his or her conduct offensive. In cases where sexual harassment is an inappropriate comment or joke, this course of action may work best to stop the problem before it escalates. If sexual harassment doesn’t stop here, at least you let the offender know what you were feeling.
File a Formal Sexual Harassment Complaint
If you can’t resolve the issue at this stage or want to avoid further workplace tension, follow your employer’s procedures for reporting workplace sexual harassment in New York City. The human resources departments of most companies have detailed processes for these situations and can help you. Speak to someone in charge of this in your department, and start the paperwork or steps necessary to file a formal complaint. Follow the procedure exactly, documenting on paper every instance of harassment you’ve suffered so far, including dates, times, what the harasser said or did, and witness information.
File an Administrative Charge
If filing a formal complaint with your company doesn’t put an end to sexual harassment, file an administrative charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or other appropriate governmental agency. The EEOC has a New York City district office open during regular business hours where you can file a charge in person. It doesn’t accept charges online, but you can send a letter with the necessary information and your signature.
After you file the necessary forms, the EEOC will try to mediate a voluntary settlement between you and your employer. If mediation doesn’t work or your employer refuses, the EEOC will conduct an investigation into the charges. This may include interviewing the harasser, employer, and/or witnesses. The EEOC will give you a Notice of Right to Sue if they can’t determine if your workplace violated the law or if you can’t reach a settlement with help from the EEOC.
File a New York City Sexual Harassment Claim with the Court
After the EEOC gives you the Right to Sue letter, you can bring a civil lawsuit against your harasser and/or company for damages you suffered due to sexual harassment. Don’t hesitate to contact an attorney prior to this step for expert legal counsel throughout the necessary steps. Once you’ve decided litigation is the best or only way to seek justice for sexual harassment in the workplace, get in touch with Joseph & Norinsberg LLC—experienced and compassionate New York City sexual harassment lawyers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Workplace Sexual Harassment
What Are Examples of Subtle Sexual Harassment in The Workplace?
Although some types of workplace sexual harassment are blatant, such as groping the breasts or buttocks, most instances of misconduct are more subtle. As long as the action is repetitive, and serious enough to make the victim uncomfortable, it likely constitutes sexual harassment. Some common examples of subtle sexual harassment include:
- Discussing topics of a sexual nature in front of the victim;
- Repeated comments about the victim’s appearance or attractiveness;
- Circulating or displaying nude or sexually suggestive images;
- Making sexual jokes in ear shot of the victim;
- Spreading rumors of a sexual nature about the victim; and
- Repeated instances of unwanted touching, including hugging, and touching the victim’s shoulder or back.
Am I Being Sexually Harassed at Work?
Sexual harassment includes unwanted touching, unwelcome advances and comments of a sexual nature, as well as requests for sexual favors. But it also includes many less obvious behaviors, some of which don’t even have to be sexual in nature. For example, even making an offensive comment about a person’s gender can be a form of sexual harassment.
The key is that for unwelcome actions and remarks to be considered unlawful, they must be frequent and severe enough to create a hostile work environment. If a “reasonable person” would consider the behavior to be unwelcome and sexual, or related to the victim’s sex, it may be sexual harassment. An experienced NYC sexual harassment lawyer can evaluate your case and help you determine how to proceed.
Is Sleeping With Your Boss To Keep Your Job Sexual Harassment?
When an imbalance of power is involved in a workplace sexual relationship, the question of whether or not the relationship is considered “welcome” by both parties must be answered. Even if there is no explicit threat, such as “sleep with me or you’ll lose your job,” courts may rule that sex was non-consensual when it is believed that the victim felt they had no choice in the matter. In addition to explicit and implied threats, bribery is a common power play involved in workplace sexual harassment. If a supervisor says something like, “I’ll forgive your poor performance this month if you go out with me,” this constitutes sexual harassment in the form of a bribe.
Hire a Skilled NYC Sexual Harassment Attorney
There’s a time limit for filing a charge of sexual harassment in New York. You must file the charge with the EEOC within 180 days of the date of the harassment or law violation, but this deadline extends to 300 days if a state or local anti-discrimination law covers your charge.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment at work, work with a New York City sexual harassment lawyer at Joseph & Norinsberg LLC to help you file a claim. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Call 212-227-5700 or contact us online today.