Coworker Sexual Harassment
New York City Coworker Sexual Harassment Attorney
Although people tend to think of sexual harassment in terms of a boss making sexual advances or offensive remarks to a subordinate, employee-employee sexual harassment is not uncommon. Fortunately, local, state and federal employment laws provide legal remedies to victims of coworker sexual harassment. If you have experienced any type of workplace harassment, it is important to know your rights.
The preeminent employment law attorneys at Lipsky Lowe, LLP routinely handle coworker sexual harassment claims for clients in New York and New Jersey. We have a well-earned reputation for providing a combination of powerful legal representation and exceptional personal service. Knowing that victims of sexual harassment may experience lingering humiliation and not know where to turn, we will be the strength in your corner.
What is coworker sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is considered to be a form of unlawful sex discrimination under federal and state laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the New York State Human Rights Law, the New York City Human Rights Law and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Generally, there two types of workplace harassment — quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when, as noted above, a person in a position of authority, demands sexual favors as a condition of employment or in return for job benefits — raises, bonuses, or promotions. A hostile work environment, on the other hand, is one in which an employee is subjected to a pattern of unwelcome sexual conduct by anyone in the workplace. This includes physical or verbal advances or sexually explicit, derogatory or discriminatory comments by a coworker that the recipient views as offensive and that causes discomfort or interferes with his or her job performance.
An isolated incident, petty slight, or simple annoyance at work may not be considered sexual harassment. To violate federal anti-discrimination laws, the unwelcome conduct must create an environment in which it’s impossible to work. There is no such requirement under New York law, however – the test is whether the aggrieved employee was treated less well because of his or her gender. Finally, courts have held that a single joke or comment could be severe or pervasive enough to constitute sexual harassment, depending on the circumstances.
In sum, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when submission to or rejection of such conduct (explicitly or implicitly) affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with his or her work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
In particular, coworker harassment may involve another employee or group of employees:
- Saying something offensive directly to you
- Making sexually derogatory comments about you to others
- Posting offensive content in the workplace (e.g., on a company bulletin board)
- Sending you a sexually inappropriate joke or other offensive material through an electronic communication
Are employers responsible for co-worker sexual harassment?
Understanding an employer’s liability for sexual harassment can be complicated because it depends on a number of factors. An employer may be liable for coworker harassment if:
- The employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment when harassing the victim(s).
- The employer knew or should have known about the harassment.
- The employer failed to take corrective action.
How do I file a sexual harassment claim against a coworker?
Before initiating a lawsuit under federal law, you must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — within 180 days of the alleged harassment, or 300 days if a state agency enforces similar anti-discrimination laws. If the EEOC cannot resolve the complaint or rules in the employer’s favor, you can proceed with a lawsuit. It is important to note that Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
In order to have a successful claim, it is necessary to show that you complained about the offensive conduct or comments to a supervisor or human resources, and the employer failed to take corrective action. This is why it is important to support your claim by documenting any incidents of sexual harassment. It may also be necessary to rely on witnesses, such as colleagues, friends and family members who were aware of the harassment.
In addition, it is also possible to pursue a lawsuit under the under the applicable New York City, New York State and New Jersey discrimination laws. These laws apply to most employers and there is no requirement to file a charge with a government agency before filing a lawsuit.
How much is my sexual harassment lawsuit worth?
Although each case is unique, the amount of compensation you may be awarded depends on factors such as the severity of the harassment or the length of time you were subjected to a hostile work environment. Nonetheless, you may be able to recover damages such as lost wages (back and front pay) and compensation for emotional distress. Punitive damages may also be awarded if the employer knew of the harassment and failed to take corrective action. Finally, you can also recover attorneys’ fees and reasonable costs, which means you will not have any out of pocket legal expenses.
What Will an NYC Work Harassment Lawyer From Lipsky Lowe Do For You
Our employment law attorneys believe that sexual harassment in the workplace is intolerable. We will fully explain all of your rights and explore all of your options. We have experience representing clients in sexual harassment claims before the EEOC as well as similar city and state agencies in New York and New Jersey. Although we prefer to reach negotiated settlements, our adept trial attorneys are equally comfortable litigating sexual harassment cases in state and federal court. Above all, we will always put your best interests first and help you find justice. Call our office today or complete the convenient online contact form to set up a free consultation.