Between navigating the commute and putting in long days, going to work in New York City is challenging enough without having to deal with sexual harassment on the job. Despite local, state and federal anti-harassment laws, workplace harassment remains pervasive in a number of employment settings. If you believe you were subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, it is important to know your rights.
At Lipsky Lowe LLP, we believe that everyone has the right to a workplace free from sexual harassment. We are well-versed in the applicable provisions of the New York City Human Rights Law and the related state and federal anti-harassment laws. Our attorneys fight for workers across multiple industries who have been subjected to unwanted sexual advances and/or hostile work environments. We also represent a wide range of business clients concerning sexual harassment claims and design proactive approaches to prevent employment-related claims. Above all, our experienced employment law attorneys are committed to rooting out workplace discrimination and harassment in all its forms.
What is Considered Sexual Harassment in New York City?
Sexual harassment may involve demands for sex as a condition of employment — or quid pro quo harassment. Additionally, harassment can include unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, any verbal or physical conduct, written messages and visual displays that affect an individual’s ability to perform his or her job properly because it is so offensive, intimidating, or abusive. This type of harassment is referred to as a hostile work environment.
Specific types of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include:
- Demands/requests for sexual favors
- Inappropriate physical contact (touching, kissing, hugging, standing too close or intentionally brushing up against another person)
- Sexually explicit or suggestive comments, jokes, teasing, or innuendo
- Making comments or asking questions about a coworkers sex life, body, or clothing
- Displaying, posting, or circulating emails, pictures, cartoons, or any other material that is sexually explicit, demeaning, or obscene
- Making verbal abusive or derogatory comments of a sexual or gender-specific nature
- Staring, leering, whistling, or obscene gestures
In other words, sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances. It is worth noting that simple teasing, offhand comments or minor isolated incidents of inappropriate conduct may not constitute unlawful sexual harassment. A pattern of such incidents is unlawful, however, when it creates an environment that unreasonably interferes with an employee’s performance or results in an adverse employment action (e.g. firing, demotion). At the same time, a single incident could rise to the level of sexual harassment if it is severe enough to create a hostile work environment.
In addition, the conduct or comments need not necessarily be of a sexual nature — offensive remarks about an individual’s gender could also be considered harassment. While women are more frequently the victims of workplace harassment, men also experience sexual harassment, and same-sex harassment is not uncommon. Regardless of your gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, it takes the adept employment law attorneys at Lipsky Lowe to fight for your rights.
Laws Against Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is considered a form of unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Pursuing a claim under this federal law can be difficult, however, because there are complicated procedural rules involved and strict deadlines apply. Sexual harassment is also prohibited under the applicable New York City law, and pursuing a claim under this statute may be more advantageous, depending on the circumstances.
First, Title VII applies to businesses with 15 or more employees, while the New York City Human Rights Law was recently amended to covers all workplaces. For the conduct to be unlawful under Title VII, it must be severe or pervasive enough to change the conditions of employment. On the other hand, the standard under the New York City Human Rights Law is much lower. An employee must only show that he or she was treated less well than other co-workers because of his/her gender. In addition, the burden of proof rests with the employer to demonstrate that the conduct was not trivial.
To file a claim under Title VII, the employee must first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If the EEOC cannot resolve the matter, it is then possible to pursue a civil lawsuit. On the other hand, no similar requirement exists under the New York City law. Finally, a number of amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law became effective in May 2018.
First, the statute of limitations for filing complaints of gender-based harassment with the Commision on Human Rights has been extended from one year to three years after the alleged incident of harassment occurred. Also, employers will be required to conspicuously display antisexual harassment rights and responsibilities notices and distribute information on sexual harassment to new hires. Finally, employers with 15 or more employees will be required to conduct annual anti-harassment training for all employees, including managers and supervisors.
Why Call Lipsky Lowe for Your New York City Sexual Harassment Claim
If you have experienced, or are experiencing, sexual harassment or a hostile work environment at your job, you need the first-rate legal representation Lipsky Lowe, LLP is known for providing. We know that most employers comply with local, state and federal anti-harassment laws and create positive working environments. At the same time, others may engage in or overlook workplace harassment. Our team will handle your matter with the utmost concern, take the time to explain all of your rights and explore all of your options.
Our trial attorneys are comfortable handling cases in multiple jurisdictions and are also highly adept at the negotiating table. Through the years, we have recovered millions of dollars for our clients in favorable judgments and settlements. We also provide comprehensive legal services to businesses in the greater New York area, advising them of their rights and responsibilities under applicable employment discrimination laws.
We have successfully defended clients against unfounded claims of harassment, which often arise in unrelated employment disputes. Our team can also work with you to develop the necessary employment policies and procedures to ensure your business adheres to local, state and federal employment laws. Our mission is to foster the development of contemporary workplaces in which everyone is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Call our office today or complete the online contact form to set up a consultation.