Sexual Harassment Attorneys in Queens and Long Island, New York
Among the types of harassment, sexual harassment is overwhelmingly common and extremely debilitating to its victims. It is illegal to harass an individual based on their sex or sexual orientation. If such behavior becomes commonplace in a workplace, an unlawful hostile work environment may develop. If you have reported harassment on the job to no avail or have faced retaliation as a result of your complaint, such as being fired, demoted, or intimidated into dropping your claim, you may be entitled to damages in a civil lawsuit. You should contact Ricotta and Marks, P.C.’s experienced sexual harassment attorneys in Queens and Long Island.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that 81% of women and 43% of men have reported some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. This harrowing statistic is a reminder that sexual harassment is a serious and pervasive issue that can be addressed through knowledge and awareness. If you or a loved one was a victim of sexual harassment, you are not alone. Expert sexual harassment lawyers at Ricotta & Marks are available today to discuss your rights and earn justice for your case.
According to the NY Department of Human Rights, employers can be held responsible for sexual harassment in the workplace in the following circumstances:
- If the harassment was the fault of a co-owner, manager, or supervisor the employer is responsible, regardless of whether or not they knew it was occurring;
- If the harassment occurred among regular employees, the employer can be held responsible if they knew about it, should have known about it, or failed to have a sexual harassment policy in place.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment includes any unwanted sexual contact and/or sexual advances. Sexual harassment is not limited to explicitly sexual behavior, but also encompasses any comments related to a person’s sex. For example, if an individual routinely makes offensive or derogatory comments about women in general, this would be considered sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment happens when a hostile environment is created and can be either physical or verbal. The aforementioned example of routine offensive comments an example of verbal sexual harassment. Some behaviors that constitute sexual harassment, both physical and verbal, include:
- Unwanted touching or groping
- Requests for sexual favors
- Sharing or displaying pornographic images or videos
- Sexual gestures (e.g. imitating sex acts)
- Coerced sex acts
- Sexually offensive comments and/or jokes
It is also important to note that gender expression does not influence one’s capacity to commit sexual harassment or become the victim of such behavior. Both the victim and the perpetrator can be any gender or even the same gender.
What Some Call ‘Teasing’ May Be Sexual Harassment
This is a question a lot of people ask themselves when it comes to sexual harassment. We all want to be at ease with members of the opposite sex, and we want to be able to behave normally around our colleagues. However, when comments that seem “normal” to one person make another person uncomfortable, that line may have been crossed.
Sexual harassment is considered to be repeated requests for dates or sexual favors, lewd comments, posting or sharing of pornographic pictures when one person is made uncomfortable, and requests or pressure from a supervisor for sexual favors in return for promotion or continued employment for an employee.
Most people are able to blow off a single incident. However, if the atmosphere of harassment continues, you feel further demeaned and a hostile work environment situation develops, it becomes a serious issue.
This is especially true where it is a supervisor-subordinate relationship because the superior has influence over your career and everyday work life.
Sexual Harassment by a Supervisor
Quid pro quo harassment refers to any situation wherein an employee’s manager, supervisor, or other relevant authority figure offers to grant a benefit (such as a raise or promotion) in exchange for a sexual favor. Alternatively, quid pro quo harassment can take place during the hiring process, when a hiring decision is contingent on the acceptance or rejection of a sexual act or favor.
Title VII refers to such quid pro quo harassment as sexual favoritism, but not all instances of sexual favoritism constitute unlawful harassment. For example, instances of preferential treatment resulting from a consensual relationship are generally not protected under Title VII.
When sexual harassment comes from a supervisor, a victim might choose not to report it out of fear of potentially losing his or her job or facing another form of retaliation. Often, victims of quid pro quo sexual harassment, requests for sexual contact in exchange for favorable treatment, feel like they have no choice but to comply with their supervisors’ requests.
You never have to engage in unwanted sexual contact, even if your job is on the line.
- A few common warning signs of sexual harassment in the workplace include:
- Sexist language and behavior from supervisors;
- Coercion and bribery used as tactics to accomplish goals;
- Physical harassment, which can include unwanted touching and uncomfortable comments about employees’ bodies; and
- Forms of sexual harassment beyond quid pro quo, such as giving inappropriately sexual gifts and asking invasive questions.
In 2016, 1,202 sex discrimination charges from New York were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This number reflects all types of sex-based discrimination, not just sexual harassment. In 2011, 11,364 sexual harassment claims were filed nationwide with the EEOC. 84 percent came from women and 16 percent came from men.
Legal Protections for Victims Who File Sexual Harassment Claims
Victims of sexual harassment are protected under local, state, and federal legislation. Sexual harassment is explicitly prohibited by the following laws:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- § 296 of the New York State Human Rights Law
- Title 8 of the New York City Administrative Code
All of the applicable laws that govern sexual harassment discuss the unlawfulness of creating a hostile work environment based on sex. Both the state and city legislation cover harassment based on sexual orientation as well.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recognizes two forms of sexual harassment occurring in the workplace: quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment. Differentiating these can be difficult, but sexual harassment attorneys at Ricotta & Marks have a proven track record in advocating for victims of sexual harassment in New York City. Call us for free to discuss your options.
Individuals who file sexual harassment claims with the EEOC are protected from retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Retaliation can include any type of mistreatment following the claim made in an effort to “punish” the employee, such as termination, poor performance reviews, harassment, and demotion or passing over the employee for a promotion.
Filing a sexual harassment claim in, talking about sexual harassment in the workplace with one’s colleagues and discussing one’s plan to file a claim, and cooperating with a colleague’s claim by providing testimony are all protected activities under the law. These are activities for which it is illegal to retaliate against an employee. Other protected activities include whistleblowing, the act of notifying authorities of the mistreatment occurring in the workplace, and picketing outside a company’s headquarters as long as it does not impede other workers’ ability to perform their jobs.
Like a sexual harassment claim, a retaliation claim is filed with the EEOC. This federal agency handles all investigations and enforcement related to the United States’ federal employment laws. And also like with sexual harassment claims, workers need to support their retaliation claims to show that their employers’ actions were directly related to their engagement in protected activities.
Workplace Retaliation and Sexual Harassment Claims in Queens
Many people are afraid to report sexual harassment because they don’t want to be seen as “whiney” or a “troublemaker.” But, in federal cases, retaliation is the most frequently lodged complaint reported by the EEOC as well as the most common form of discrimination. Retaliation occurs when an employer unjustly punishes any employee who:
- Participates in a discrimination lawsuit or investigation
- Opposes discrimination
- Files a complaint regarding discrimination
For instance, an employee may have filed a complaint with the EEOC regarding a hostile work environment created due to inappropriate sexual advances in the office. If the manager finds out about this complaint and proceeds to fire the employee, this could be protected under legislation. The same would be true if the employer cut their wages or suddenly reduced work hours as a form of “punishment” for filing the complaint.
Retaliation is a separate claim from discrimination, meaning any victim of both retaliation and discrimination or harassment may file two separate claims against their employer.It is illegal for your employer to tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace. You have a right to report this behavior and a right to expect not to be retaliated against for doing so.
What To Do If You Are Sexually Harassed
If you are a victim of sexual harassment, it is suggested to follow company procedure and contact the designated person at your workplace to file a complaint, if possible. Make sure to record all instances of harassment, as this can strengthen your case and prove helpful if you seek legal assistance from our expert sexual harassment attorneys in Queens, NY.
Discuss Your Rights With Ricotta & Marks’ Sexual Harassment Attorneys in Queens and Long Island, NY
Experiencing sexual harassment can be a shocking and traumatizing situation. Aside from reporting to an employer, there is no clear answer of how to handle a case of sexual harassment. The unique facts of a claim dictate how to proceed, whether that includes filing a lawsuit or approaching a relevant organization to discuss the case.
Victims of sexual harassment are protected under the law. If you are part of the majority of women and men who experienced sexual harassment, come into Ricotta & Marks, P.C., today and tell us your story. Our skilled sexual harassment attorneys in Queens and Long Island will advise you as to all of your options for dealing with a sexual harassment case against your employer. We have the resources and skill to help you bring your story to light and hold those responsible, accountable and know the federal, state and local laws that affect companies when it comes to sexual harassment in Queens.
Call Ricotta & Marks, P.C., at 347-464-8694 or send us an e-mail to schedule your free initial appointment.