Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination in the workplace where an employee experiences unfair and/or unwanted treatment as a result of their gender. Sexual harassment can consist of unwanted sexual advancements, crude or suggestive remarks of a sexual nature, or even inappropriate touching. It can be verbal as well as physical. Sexual harassment is illegal under New York city, state and federal laws. Where the harassment persists against the victim’s protests, if the harassment interferes with an employee’s ability to do his or her job, or where it creates a hostile or offensive work environment for the employee, that employee has important legal rights and can and should seek to enforce them.
Additional forms of harassment may include threatened termination, demotion or other negative impacts to the employee’s career if the employee refuses the sexual advances, or if performing sexual favors is a criteria for deciding on promotions as well as decisions of one’s hiring or continued employment.
It is important to know that sexual harassment is prohibited by law; furthermore, employers are prohibited from retaliating against a victim of sexual harassment. If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment, you should contact a New York sexual harassment lawyer to protect your legal rights. The New York Labor Law Attorneys at Slater Slater Schulman LLP are here to help. Contact us at (800) 251-6990 to set up a free consultation.
Examples of Harassment may include the following:
- Pressure for dates
- Repeated hints or attempts for sexual favors
- Offensive remarks about appearance
- Sexual or uncomfortable touching
- Jokes that make you feel uncomfortable, especially about race, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and religion
- People using racial epithets or phrases as work
- People making gestures that offend your sex, race or ethnic group
- People posting offensive pictures or materials in the office
- People sending offensive emails in the workplace, including racist or sexist jokes, pictures or other materials that make you uncomfortable
- People commenting negatively about your skin color
- People insulting or intimidating you due to a mental or physical impairment
Sexual Harassment Laws
Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited by New York City, State, and Federal laws. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Civil Rights Acts of 1991 prevent unlawful workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and the existence of a hostile work environment, while New York State Human Rights Law and New York City Human Rights Law prohibit sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and retaliation for reporting any such conduct.
Employers must prevent and promptly correct instances of sexual harassment in the workplace. If the employer is the creator of the harassment, then they are violating the law. If the cause is another employee or other condition, then they are obligated to correct it. It is important to note that an employer is only legally responsible for sexual harassment of which they are aware. It is, therefore, the victim’s responsibility to notify a supervisor upon suffering harassment in the workplace; only if the employer fails to properly address your situation will the employer be liable for damages.
Additionally, New York City Human Rights Law mandates that employees who are owners, supervisors, and managers are personally liable when they create or condone the sexual harassment or hostile work environment.
While it may be hard or uncomfortable to come forward and complain about sexual harassment, such proactive steps may be the only way to stop it. Additionally, if you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation.
The attorneys at Slater Slater Schulman LLP are here to help. We represent clients throughout the New York metro region, including all 5 boroughs of NYC (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island) and Long Island (both Nassau and Suffolk county). Contact us at (800) 251-6990 to set up a free consultation. We will be happy to discuss your legal rights and how we can work to protect them.