Know Your Rights Under the Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law

By Douglas Lipsky

Survivors of sexual assault based on gender in New York City have legal remedies under the Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law, which allows claimants to pursue damages from their abusers and responsible entities. Notably, victims of gender-motivated violence in the workplace bring claims under this law as well as employment laws protecting against sexual harassment in the workplace to hold both the wrongdoer and the perpetrator’s employer liable.

What is the Gender-Motivated Violence Protect Law?

The Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law (GMVPL) is designed to protect women and men from gender-based violence that can cause physical, psychological, and economic harm. 

In short, the GMVPL creates a civil cause of action for survivors of gender-motivated violence to bring civil lawsuits against their perpetrators and responsible institutions,  even if the sexual abuse occurred decades ago. The law covers victims injured by a violent crime motivated by gender: any act or series of acts committed because of a person’s gender. This includes sexual assaults and other sex crimes classified as a misdemeanor or felony under state or federal law.

Plaintiffs can bring lawsuits against perpetrators and entities that directed, enabled, participated in, or conspired to commit a gender-motivated act of violence – including those legally responsible for the conduct of employees, volunteers, or contractors.

City Council Extends GMVPL Statute of Limitations

In January 2022, the New York City Council enacted an amendment to the Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law to provide survivors with more opportunities to pursue their claims.

The amendment:

  1. Created a temporary 2-year lookback window to file civil lawsuits that opened on March 1, 2023, and will close on March 1, 2025.
  2. Extended the statute of limitations to bring claims within 7 to 9 years from the date the gender-motivated violent act occurred.

Do I Have a Claim?

You may have a valid claim under the GMVPL if you suffered harm due to a sexual assault or sexual crime of violence that was motivated at least in part by gender and the incident occurred within any of the City’s five boroughs. To have a successful claim, you must prove:

  • The crime was a “crime of violence motivated by gender”
  • The defendant is liable

While a conviction proves the defendant committed a crime, it does not mean they were “motivated by gender.” However, courts in New York have held sexual assault is an act of violence motivated in part by gender. 

Moreover, you should know claims under the Victims of Gender-Motivated Protection Law are civil matters and not criminal proceedings, which means you may still have a valid claim even if the defendant was not charged with or convicted of a crime. 

Finally, if you name any entity as a defendant in your claim, you must prove they are liable for your damages. For example, if the assault or violent crime occurred at work, you must demonstrate that your employer knew, or should have known, about the commission of the gender-based motivated crime. 

Available Damages Under the Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law

The following legal remedies are available under the GMVPL:

  • Lost income and future wages
  • Medical expenses 
  • Pain and suffering
  • Attorney fees and costs
  • Punitive damages
  • Injunctive and declaratory relief
  • Other relief deemed appropriate by the court

Although you may be reluctant to come forward, pursuing a claim is the best way to protect your rights and may prevent others from being victimized by a violent crime motivated by gender.

The Takeaway

If you have been the victim of a violent crime motivated by gender on the job, you may be frightened and not know where to turn. Talk to an experienced employment lawyer today about your best options.

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.