How Much Is My Sexual Harassment Claim Worth?

By Douglas Lipsky

If you have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, you have a right to file a civil lawsuit to recover damages. Given the challenges of taking legal action against an employer, it is crucial to work with an experienced sexual harassment attorney who will fight to protect your rights.

Defining Sexual Harassment in New York

Federal, state, and local laws prohibit sexual harassment, which is considered an unlawful form of sex-based discrimination. The applicable laws governing New York workplaces include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
  • New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL)
  • New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL)

Sexual harassment often involves unwanted sexual demands by a supervisor in exchange for an employment benefit (e,g, job offer, raise, promotion). This is referred to as quid pro quo harassment. This type of harassment may also arise when an employee is terminated or retaliated against in any way for refusing a sexual advance. 

Another form of harassment is referred to as a hostile work environment, which arises when an employee is subjected to a pattern of offensive comments, conduct, or displays by anyone in the workplace, including supervisors, coworkers, vendors, clients, and customers. 

To have a valid claim under Title VII, the conduct must be severe and pervasive. The standard is far lower under the NYSHRL and NYCHRL, however, The victim need only show that he or she was treated less well than others because of his or her gender. In any event, it takes a skilled sexual harassment attorney to protect your employment rights. 

Damages You May Recover in a Sexual Harassment Claim

While workplace harassment claims are often settled out of court, a skilled attorney is always ready to go to trial to achieve the best outcome. In a successful claim, you may be entitled to damages such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost benefits/promotions
  • The cost of counseling to cope with the effects of harassment
  • Emotional distress
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs

You may also be awarded punitive damages if your employer knew, or reasonably should have known, about the harassment, and failed to stop it. These damages are intended to punish the defendant’s conduct and prevent other employers from failing to remedy sexual harassment. 

The Takeaway

All employees in New York have a right to a work environment free from sexual harassment. While the majority of sexual harassment victims are women, anyone can be impacted by harassment, regardless of gender or sexual identity. Despite the protections under applicable anti-harassment laws, sexual harassment continues to occur in all types of work settings. 

Victims are often reluctant to come forward out of fear of being fired by their employer or shunned and ostracized by their colleagues. You should know that you cannot be fired, harassed, or retaliated against for exercising your legal rights, By working with an experienced sexual harassment attorney, you can fight back, obtain just compensation, and protect your right to earn a living. 

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.