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The Culture of Science Discourages Reports of Sexual Harassment

Many women are often afraid to come forward with a sexual harassment complaint at the workplace. In fact, studies show a majority of sexual harassment victims fail to report the incident. One reason for the lack of reporting may be that sexual harassment can take many forms, including offensive jokes, suggestive comments, awkward stares, or unwelcomed touch. Another reason may be the fear of derailing a career because of speaking out.

This last reason was revealed to be a major problem in the scientific community when a six-month-long investigation by the University of California Berkeley revealed renowned astronomer and faculty member Geoffrey Marcy violated multiple university harassment policies over the course of decade. According to an NPR report, the investigation, which remained private until a news agency broke the story, touches on a larger issue in the scientific community: that sexual harassment is prevalent, victims are afraid to report it because careers may be derailed, and that the culture promotes silence.

Whatever the circumstances may be, a victim of sexual harassment has the right to report the unsuitable workplace behavior without fear of retaliation.  For this reason, if you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual harassment, contact the most aggressive and knowledgeable sexual harassment lawyer Queens has to offer to handle your case.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?

 In general, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, as well as other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, or requests for sexual favors. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), discrimination on the basis of specific characteristics is prohibited, one of them being gender. This federal law applies to employers with more than 15 employees and includes federal, state, and local governments.

Because sexual harassment is not limited by gender, Title VII governs opposite and same-sex harassment. Furthermore, while harassers can often be direct supervisors this is not always the case. In fact,  a harasser may be a co-worker, a supervisor in a different company department, or someone employed at another workplace. What’s more, a victim of sexual harassment can also be an employee who is indirectly – but negatively – affected by the offensive conduct.

Beyond federal law, some states have adopted even further protections for workers. Specifically, in New York the NYC Commission on Human Rights prohibits employer retaliation against those who have:

  • opposed an unlawful discriminatory practice or made a charge of discrimination;
  • testified, assisted, or participated in a discrimination investigation, proceeding or hearing; and
  • a reasonable good faith belief, even if he or she turns out to be mistaken, that the employer’s conduct is illegal.

In order for individuals to benefit from the protections of NY’s sexual harassment law, the state requires that the organization must have four or more employees. Furthermore, the law prohibits discrimination in several areas, including performance evaluations, hiring, firing, salary, benefits, promotions, discipline, and work assignments.

Sexual Harassment Lawyer Queens

If you or someone you know has been experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace in any fashion, contact the seasoned legal professionals at White, Ricotta & Marks, P.C. right away to tell your story. The most experienced sexual harassment lawyers Queens residents can rely on  are well-versed in federal, state and local laws that govern these cases. Contact the NYC office at (800) 240-9269 today for a free case evaluation.

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