Sexual harassment claims in the hospitality industry are among the most common sexual harassment claims in New York City. Several recent high-profile sexual harassment lawsuits have sought to address the alleged sexual harassment of housekeeping workers by hotel managers and employees. Hospitality industry workers, including restaurant hosts, servers, housekeepers, and more, are at risk for sexual harassment from supervisors, co-workers, and customers.
Discuss Your Case With an NYC Sexual Harassment Hospitality Lawyer
If you worked in the hospitality industry in New York City and you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment, you may have a right to bring a lawsuit against your employer. The experienced and knowledgeable sexual harassment attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP will evaluate your case and help you understand your legal options. Contact the skilled employment lawyers at Lipsky Lowe LLP today to schedule a consultation to learn more about your legal rights.
Pursuing a Claim After Sexual Harassment in Hospitality
Sexual harassment is considered unlawful sex discrimination under the New York City human rights law and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In New York City, victims of sexual harassment can pursue compensation and other remedies against employers in the hospitality industry. However, in New York City, sexual harassment plaintiffs need to prove that their employer knew or should have known about the sexual harassment and failed to take action to stop it.
Proving that an employer in the hotel industry knew or should have known about sexual harassment can be difficult for plaintiffs. For example, hotel maintenance employees may experience sexual harassment when alone with a guest in the hallway or the guest’s room. Likewise, in a busy restaurant, it may be difficult for a server to prove that the employer knew or should have known about sexual harassment that occurred.
Identifying guests who sexually harass hotel employees or servers can be difficult because of plausible deniability. It may come down to the employee’s word against the guest’s word. Due to the challenging aspects of sexual harassment claims in the hospitality industry, it’s crucial that you discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you gather evidence and develop a strategy for your case while actively protecting your legal rights.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
There are two types of unlawful sexual harassment: quid pro quo sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo means “this for that.” This type of sexual harassment is typically the most explicit. It occurs when an employer or supervisor makes unwanted sexual advances toward an employee. The employer tells the employee he or she will provide some type of employment benefit in exchange for a sexual favor. Conversely, the employer could threaten to fire the employee or take another adverse action if the employee doesn’t engage in sexual activity. Employment benefits could mean:
- Continued employment
- Financial loss, such as a reduction of shifts
- Promotion or demotion
- A poor work evaluation
- Termination of employment
Creation of a Hostile Work Environment
The second type of sexual harassment is the creation of a hostile work environment. Hostile work environments are far too common in the hospitality sector. The victim must prove that the sexual harassment is frequent, repeated, and unwanted. To hold the employer liable, the victim must prove that the owner or manager knew or should have known about the behavior and didn’t take action to stop it.
For example, a bar owner may pressure female servers to dress in a sexual manner or look the other way when intoxicated customers grope servers or make sexually explicit comments about them. If the owner didn’t take any actions to stop the harassment, the victim might bring a lawsuit or claim against the employer. In order to prove a hostile work environment, the harassing behavior must be:
- Sexual in nature, or
- Directed at one particular sex
Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Hospitality Sector
Sexual harassment in the hospitality industry can include unwanted sexual touching, sexually offensive jokes, displays of sexual material, or coerced sexual acts. Unfortunately, there are many ways hospitality workers can be exposed to sexual harassment. A recent survey conducted in 2017 included 500 hotel and casino employees. In that study, 58 percent of Hotel employees reported that a guest had sexually harassed them at some point in the past.
The number was higher for casino workers, of which 77% had reported guests have sexually harassed them. Shockingly, nearly half of the hotel workers who took the survey stated that “they had experienced a guest answering the door naked or otherwise exposing himself.” Additionally, 65% of casino cocktail servers reported that a guest had tried to touch them or did touch them without their permission. Nearly 40% of all casino workers said guests or co-workers had harassed them. Sexual harassment in the hospitality sector can also include the following:
- Lewd, coarse, or sexually suggestive comments
- Cornering another person
- Displaying sexually-based images
- Sending sexually-based text messages
- Displaying pornography
- Tolerating or accepting any of the above behaviors
Contact a Sexual Harassment in Hospitality Lawyer Today
Victims of sexual harassment may be entitled to compensation from their employers. They also may be entitled to restitution, such as the reinstatement of their job or a court order mandating that the business stop the sexual harassment. In egregious cases, judges may impose punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer and warn others who might engage in similar behavior.
At Lipsky Lowe LLP, our attorneys have an extensive background in the hotel, restaurant, and other hospitality industries. We know how to hold employees accountable for sexual harassment in the hospitality industry, and we have a proven track record of success. If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment in the hospitality industry, our experienced employment lawyers are here to help. Contact Lipsky Lowe LLP today to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your employment claim with a knowledgeable attorney.