New York and federal law both prohibit sexual harassment. It is considered a form of sex discrimination. Illegal sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct is used as the basis for making employment decisions or results in a hostile work environment because is its frequency or severity.
There is a wide range of conduct that can constitute sexual harassment, from obscene gestures, sexual comments, recurring sexual jokes, whether directed at the employee or someone else, to direct quid pro quo sexual harassment, where sexual favors are exchanged for favorable workplace decisions. Individuals of any gender can be the victims of sexual harassment or the harassers.
It is widely believed that sexual harassment in the workplace is underreported, and anecdotally, the employment discrimination attorneys at Joseph & Norinsberg can say that many of our clients that have faced sexual harassment have been reluctant to come forward. We’ve also noticed an even greater reluctance to come forward when the employee being harassed is in a particular type of working environment.
Where is Sexual Harassment Most Prevalent?
Both females and males in traditionally male-dominated professions tend to be more reluctant to come forward regarding sexual harassment. The construction and closely-related engineering industries are so notorious for the sexual harassment that occurs that it’s almost considered part of the job, and women feel compelled to wear more masculine or gender-neutral attire to avoid drawing attention to themselves.
More recently, the technology sector has been the subject of investigative scrutiny for the frat-like working environments, where harassing behavior, or conduct that borders it, is the norm. Just last year, headlines exploded when Tinder, the ubiquitous dating app, was sued by one of its cofounders for sexual harassment. Whitney Wolfe, co-founder of Tinder, sued her former partners and their new parent company after being pushed out of the company following ongoing harassment.
The conduct of Wolfe’s fellow cofounders was egregious. Wolfe reported being told it was “too slutty” for her to be considered a cofounder of a dating app. She was also chastised for hiring an attorney to help protect her from threats. Her fellow cofounder repeatedly sent her abusive and threatening texts during work hours despite her clear requests for him to stop. The case eventually settled, reportedly for a little over $1 million, not surprising if you review some of the text messages sent to Wolfe, which are widely available online.
Reach Out to a Professional for Help
The attorneys at Joseph & Norinsberg understand how difficult it can be to stand up against sexual harassment, particularly in environments where it is the norm. Yet, in these situations it is perhaps even more important that they do – the conduct is unlikely to cease without legal intervention and it helps change the environment for other current and future employees. The attorneys at Joseph & Norinsberg have the experience needed to help you bring your sexual harassment case and ensure that you are protected from retaliation after.
Call us today at (212) JUSTICE or e-mail us at [email protected] and let us take over the fight for you.