New York Sexual Harassment Attorneys Representing Clients in Long Island
Sexual harassment is a widespread issue that can often lead to lifelong suffering and emotional distress. Putting this into perspective, a national study on sexual harassment and assault suggests that 81% of women and 43% of men have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their life. Given the prolific nature of this problem, it is important to recognize sexual harassment in all forms, especially within the workplace. Whether you have been the target of sexual harassment in your workplace or your job has been impacted by sexual harassment that takes place at work, one of our sexual harassment attorneys in Long Island and Queens can speak with you about your options for filing a claim. You may be eligible to seek a remedy under state or federal law depending upon the specific circumstances of your case.
Sexual harassment is unlawful in workplaces on Long Island under both New York state and federal law.
When you are the target of sexual harassment on the job, or your work is affected by ongoing or a single egregious act of sexual harassment at work, you may be able to file a sexual harassment claim. It is critical to know that employers can be liable for sexual harassment even if they do not perpetrate it in the workplace. Further, employers can be liable for sexual harassment if they fail to take action once harassment is reported.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), can include “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” At the same time, sexual harassment “does not have be of a sexual nature,” and it “can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.” According to the New York Division of Human Rights, “sexually harassing conduct can consist of unwanted verbal or physical sexual advances, sexually explicit statements, or discriminatory remarks that are offensive or objectionable to the recipient.”
New York State law recently amended their sexual harassment legislation to include conduct that is not pervasive or severe. Therefore, anything more than trivial or petty slights are now considered illegal in New York. Some examples of unlawful sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
- Offensive jokes or comments
- Demands for sexual favors
- Sharing pornographic material
- Obscene gestures
- Unwanted sexual touching
- Coerced sex acts of any kind
To be clear, sexual harassment is an unlawful form of sex discrimination that is prohibited under the New York State Human Rights Law and federally under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Different Forms of Sexual Harassment in Long Island
Sexual harassment in general can take two different forms:
- Quid pro quo harassment (or “this for that”). This type of harassment is a form of exchange. Employment, pay, benefits, promotions, or other opportunities are conditional on the basis that the victim submits to sexual advances. Whether this type of harassment is explicitly stated or implicitly suggested, it is illegal.
- Hostile work environment harassment, which is a form of sexual harassment in which the harassing behavior is so extreme, or so pervasive, that it rises to the level of creating a hostile work environment. A single incident can be sufficient to establish a hostile work environment in some cases.
Can Harassment be a Form of Workplace Retaliation?
This type of harassment is a form of exchange. Employment, pay, benefits, promotions, or other opportunities are conditional on the basis that the victim submits to sexual advances. Whether this type of harassment is explicitly stated or implicitly suggested, it is illegal.
Examples of quid pro quo harassment include:
- A supervisor threatening to fire an employee if they refuse to have sex with them
- A manager offering a pay raise in exchange for a date or sexual favors.
- A hiring manager suggesting that if an interviewee take the job, they can “spend a lot of after-hours time together”
- A coworker stating that they will report another employee to their supervisor if they refuse to submit to sexual advances
Examples of Sexual Harassment in Long Island, NY Workplaces
The New York Division of Human Rights provides a variety of examples that reveal the forms sexual harassment can take. Some of those examples include the following:
- Requests for sexual favors from a boss or employer, which are followed by implied or explicit threats against the employee related to a performance evaluation or job security if the employee does not agree to the sexual favors;
- Pressure for any unwanted sexual activities, whether it is subtle or overt;
- Verbal harassment that involves sexual comments or questions;
- Physical contact that is unnecessary or inappropriate;
- Displaying of lewd or sexually explicit photographs in the workplace; and/or
- Frequent derogatory comments about a person’s abilities based on sex or gender.
How Am I Protected From Sexual Harassment?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and New York State legislation explicitly prohibits sexual harassment of any kind within the workplace. In addition, New York State recently added a provision that requires employers to put in place a comprehensive anti-sexual harassment policy. These policies must: clearly state that sexual harassment is considered employee misconduct and is subject to sanctions if violated. There must also be a complaint form within the workplace system available to all employees. Moreover, the state now requires that employees receive sexual harassment training on an annual basis.
Who Can File a Sexual Harassment Claim?
With quid pro quo sexual harassment, the person who files the claim is typically the employee who is facing the harassment. However, with hostile workplace sexual harassment, anyone who is affected may be eligible to file a claim. To be clear, an employee who is the target of the harassment can file a claim, or another employee who is affected or impacted by the harassment may be eligible to move forward with a sexual harassment claim.
Unlike some other forms of workplace discrimination, it is also essential to know that people beyond an employer or a supervisor can be responsible for sexual harassment in the Long Island workplace. Any of the following people or parties, for instance, can perpetrate sexual harassment that can result in a state or federal claim:
- Vendor; or
What Do I Do If I Experienced Sexual Harassment?
If you experienced or are experiencing sexual harassment at the hands of your employer, it is important to advocate for your rights. Under New York State law, employers must have a protocol in place to field sexual harassment complaints. That being said, you may begin by filing a claim with your employer through the designated channel.
If your workplace is not adequately handling the complaint internally, the EEOC and New York State Division of Human Rights both accept and investigate sexual harassment allegations. The EEOC states that a charge must be filed within 300 days of the harassment. The New York State Division of Human Rights, however, requires that you file a charge within three years of the alleged unlawful conduct. Be cognizant of the timelines for both of these organizations.
For many people, contacting a sexual harassment lawyer is the most efficient way to address a workplace harassment claim and have their voice be heard.
Contact Our Sexual Harassment Attorneys in Long Island for Assistance with Your Claim
If you have faced sexual harassment in the workplace, you should not have to face the process of filing a complaint alone. And in many cases, consulting with sexual harassment attorneys may be highly beneficial to your case. Lawyers are trained to develop personalized strategies depending on the unique facts and circumstances of your case.
One of our experienced sexual harassment attorneys in Long Island and Queens, NY an evaluate your case, discuss your options for filing a state or federal claim, and guide you through every step of the complaint process. Whether you file your claim through the New York Division of Human Rights or the EEOC, we will be here to advocate you and to represent your interests. Contact Ricotta & Marks, P.C. online for assistance with your case or call us today at 347-464-8694 to speak with an advocate about moving forward with your claim.