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Can You Be Sexually Harassed Outside of Work?

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Sexual harassment still occurs quite frequently in the workplace, even though there are laws preventing it. Managers are trained to prevent it, but it still persists.

One thing you may not have thought about is the laws that apply to sexual harassment among co-workers in an environment other than the workplace. What if you are dealing with sexual harassment after work hours? What if you are at a BBQ, bar, restaurant, holiday party, conference, sporting event or other company-sponsored event and a co-worker harasses you? What laws are in place and what rights do you have?

If you are wondering if you can be sexually harassed outside of work, the answer is yes. However, the laws are not always clear-cut. This will depend on whether or not there are company policies prohibiting sexual harassment outside of the workplace, as well as the court’s decision.

Harassment at Company Events

Employees are often referred to as company representatives. Therefore, if an employee engages in inappropriate behavior outside of the workplace, the company has the right to discipline the employee, if there are policies in place. Employees need to be aware of the company’s expectation for them outside of the workplace and understand that violating these policies can result in a verbal warning, probation or even job loss.

There is some confusion about this. After all, when an employee is not performing work duties, shouldn’t they be allowed to do what they want on their personal time? Maybe, but their role as a company representative does not end once they’re off the clock. Sexual harassment and other immoral activities reflect poorly on a company and can still lead to termination, especially if an employee is an at-will employee. This classification allows a company to terminate an employee at any time, for any reason.

Even if there are no company policies in place prohibiting sexual harassment outside of the workplace, if the employee who is harassed sues the employer, the court may rule in the employee’s favor. This has happened in many instances, especially in cases where the sexual harassment occurred at a company-sponsored event.

Even if the harassment did not occur at the event itself, but afterward in a different environment, the court has ruled in the employee’s favor. For example, if the sexual harassment occurred in a hotel room after the event or even at an employee’s home, the court may rule in favor of the employee. Even unwanted, harassing phone calls made to the employee’s home can constitute sexual harassment.

Most of the time, the person who causes the harassment is liable. However, if the employer was made aware of the situation but did nothing to stop it, then the employer could be held liable as well.

Contact a New York Sexual Harassment Lawyer

It’s important that we feel at ease in the workplace. When we are subject to teasing, name-calling, sexual touching and other inappropriate behavior, it can make a work environment uncomfortable and even hostile.

If you have experienced persistent harassment in the workplace, and your employer has done nothing to stop it, it may be time to seek legal help. The experienced New York sexual harassment lawyers at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can help. We can assess your case and determine your rights to compensation from your employer. To schedule a consultation, contact our firm today at (347)-464-8694.

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