Liability for Sexual Harassment in The Workplace
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.
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 the experienced sexual harassment attorney in Queens. These damages include job reinstatement, compensation for lost wages and benefits, and payment of court costs and attorney fees. You may also be entitled to compensation for any medical or emotional illness or symptoms you suffered as a result.
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Sometimes these “Jekyll and Hyde” switches occur because a superior learned something about a subordinate that then caused him or her to have a negative bias, like the employee was of a certain religion or sexual orientation. Sometimes the reason is more obvious, like a bias against people of a certain race, being male or female, a woman becoming pregnant or people with disabilities.
Other Employment Law Issues
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.
Sexual Harassment by a Supervisor
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
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.More Stories