Even with state, city and federal laws in place to prevent such activity, sexual harassment remains a prevalent problem in New York City. Data suggests that sexual harassment in the workplace goes underreported, likely due to fear of retaliation or the fact that many victims do not realize that the behavior is sexual harassment. In 2020 alone, however, the New York City Commission on Human Rights received over 500 sexual harassment reports, resulting in millions of dollars in compensation to the victims of such behavior. Sexual harassment should not, and cannot, be tolerated in the workplace. For this reason, Ricotta & Marks, P.C. sexual harassment lawyers in New York City work tirelessly for harassment victims, ensuring that they are treated fairly under the law. If you or a loved one is a victim of sexual harassment, contact an experienced employment attorney today at 347-321-8895 to discuss your options.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
A pervasive issue across all states and industries, sexual harassment involves any unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate sexual commentary. Sexual harassment also includes any other verbal or physical harassment that is of a sexual nature.
In order for sexual harassment to be legally present, the behavior must create a hostile or otherwise offense workplace. Comments or actions must be more than “petty slights” or trivial incidents. Moreover, both the victim and the harasser can be of any gender or sex. Individuals of the same gender or sex can perpetrate illegal sexual harassment.
New York State boasts one of the strongest anti-sexual harassment laws in the country, yet this issue persists. This can be largely credited to the fact that individuals who perpetrate sexual harassment attempt to pass off such behavior as a joke. This manipulation can lead victims to avoid filing a claim against the sexual harassment.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights provides several examples of sexual harassment, which includes, but are not limited to:
- Undesired or otherwise inappropriate touching of employees or customers.
- Threatening or hostile behavior after a person denies a sexual advance.
- Making lewd or sexual comments about how a person is dressed or their appearance.
- Offering promotions on the condition that sexual favors are provided.
- Displaying inappropriate images on a computer, phone, bulletin board, etc.
- Making sexist or discriminatory remarks based on a person’s sex or gender.
It should be noted that sexual harassment may involve demands for sex in exchange for a promotion or as a condition of employment – otherwise known as quid pro quo harassment.
What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?
The phrase “quid pro quo” translates from Latin to mean “this for that.” It refers to an exchange of some sort. In the employment setting, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when sexual demands are made in exchange for some sort of employment benefit.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment can manifest differently, depending on the circumstances. Some common examples include:
- A manager threatening to terminate, demote, or transfer an employee unless they give, or continue giving, sexual favors
- A supervisor offering to improve an employee’s performance evaluation if they agree to sexual acts or go on a date
- A director providing an employee with a favorable assignment with the assumption that the employee will repay the favor with sexual acts
- An employer terminating an employee for refusing to comply with demands for sexual favors
- A boss requesting sexual acts as a condition for hiring an employee
Quid pro quo sexual harassment is unlawful even if the behavior or demand happened on only one occasion. If you have been subjected to quid pro quo sexual harassment, you are able to seek legal recourse under federal, state, and even city law. The EEOC fields complaints at the federal level while the New York State Division of Human Rights accepts complaints from employees across the state. New York City also receives complaints through the Commission on Human Rights.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be awarded damages for the lost income and/or emotional distress that you suffered. If you are unsure of how to lodge a complaint or if believe you are entitled to compensation, Ricotta & Marks, P.C. sexual harassment lawyers in New York City are available to discuss your unique situation.
Same Sex Harassment Lawyers
The Supreme Court of the United States has held that sexual harassment is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even if that harassment occurred between individuals of the same sex. In Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U.S. 75 (1998), a male worker was subjected to humiliating, sex-related acts and threatened in a sexual manner by his other male coworkers.
The presiding court held that sexual harassment does not need to be motivated by sexual desire necessarily, and can be perpetrated by individuals of the same sex. So long as a victim is harassed due to their sex, creating a hostile work environment, it is considered illegal sexual harassment under the law.
Sexual Harassment Retaliation
All employees are protected under sexual harassment laws. Yet, in some cases, an employee may be treated unfairly after filing a complaint regarding such behavior or involving themselves in a sexual harassment investigation. It is not uncommon to see an employee being subject to punishment due to their involvement in a sexual harassment claim, which is a major contributor to the underreporting of such behavior.
Like sexual harassment, retaliation is illegal under state, city, and federal law. For this reason, victims of retaliation can file a separate complaint for instances of retaliation. Understanding whether or not retaliation is present can be difficult, however, and an experienced sexual harassment lawyer can help determine whether or not you are a victim of retaliation.
What To Do if You Have Experienced Harassment at Work
Many victims of sexual harassment are unsure of where to turn for help. Thankfully, there are several dedicated organizations that are committed to assisting sexual harassment victims, namely:
- RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incent National Network): the largest national anti-sexual harassment and assault organization in the United States.
- Lean In: an organization dedicated to creating more equitable workplaces and lasting institutional change regarding the prevalence of sexual harassment.
- Women In Research: this organization advocates for women and minority groups in the research community.
- The Society for Human Resource Management: the world’s largest human resource association, committed to creating safer and more hospitable workplaces.
Aside from those organizations, there are governmental agencies working at the federal, state, and city level to field sexual harassment complaints:
It should be noted that there are time limitations placed on complaints lodged with any of the three aforementioned governmental agencies. For instance, a victim of sexual harassment must file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights within three years of the incident.
New York City Employment Attorneys Ricotta & Marks Will Help
Sexual harassment is a serious offense that can have a long-lasting impact on victims. Fortunately, victims of sexual harassment are able to seek remedy under the law, which can help to mitigate some of the detrimental consequences. At Ricotta & Marks, P.C., our team of experienced sexual harassment lawyers are passionate about fighting for the rights of sexual harassment victims. We will work diligently for you to ensure that you receive the fair treatment and compensation that you deserve. Contact our New York City sexual harassment lawyers or call us at 347-479-1749 to speak with us and begin the process of holding your harasser(s) accountable.