Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a pervasive form of discrimination that affects both women and men. Sexual harassment is illegal, even where the harasser is the same sex as the victim of the harassment. Common forms of sexual harassment in the workplace include sexual assault, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors in exchange for better terms of employment, and offensive comments related to an individual’s gender, such as the use of gender-specific curse words.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the federal law that provides protection from sexual harassment for those who work for employers with 15 or more employees, federal and state governments, labor unions and employment agencies. An employer is liable for sexual harassment that is directed at an employee by his or her co-worker, supervisor, client or customer.

For individuals who work in New York State, local laws provide greater protection from sexual harassment than Title VII. For example, under the New York State Human Rights Law, the owners of a corporation can be held individually liable if they “aid or abet” the sexual harassment, such as by failing to stop it or otherwise condoning it. The New York City Human Rights Law provides even great protection from sexual harassment because the standard for liability is lower than federal and state law. In addition, the New York City Law protects more individuals because it applies to employers with 4 or more employees.

Consultation with an employment lawyer while the sexual harassment is on-going is very important. An experienced attorney can help the employee preserve evidence and navigate complaint procedures established by the employer, which helps to develop a record if the employee decides to later bring a lawsuit.

From women coal miners who were sexually assaulted on the job by their co-workers to male building maintenance workers whose private parts were groped by their male supervisor, I have extensive experience litigating and resolving sexual harassment claims in a variety of workplaces throughout the United States.