Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual conduct directed at one employee by another, regardless of gender, and includes inappropriate joking or touching, requesting sexual favors, or any other harassment that is sexual in nature. State, city and federal laws prohibit sexual harassment and prohibit an employer from retaliating against a victim of sexual harassment. You have the right to be employed in a workplace free from sexual harassment and if a supervisor or co-worker has done anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, you should contact a sexual harassment lawyer in New York to enforce your rights. However, not all conduct constitutes sexual harassment:

Sexual Favoritism

Sexual favoritism is prohibited in the eyes of the law.  If a supervisor, owner or manager attempts to engage in sexual conduct with an employee, who denies such advances, that employee cannot be disciplined, terminate or retaliated against for doing so.  Typically, these cases arise by individuals in positions of authority with their subordinates.  Even if a consensual sexual relationship develops in the workplace, an employee cannot be subject to adverse employment actions for ending the relationship. 

Sexual Harassment Laws

If you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, several state, city and federal laws protect your rights. The New York State Human Rights Law and New York City Human Rights Law contain provisions prohibiting sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and retaliation for reporting any such conduct.  Similarly, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and Section 102 and 103 of the Civil Rights Acts of 1991 prevent unlawful workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and the creation of a hostile work environment for co-workers experiencing sexual harassment.

Under Title VII, employers are responsible for both preventing and promptly correcting sexual harassment in the workplace. However, before an employer can be legally responsible for sexual harassment, the employer must have knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing. Therefore, it is your responsibility to notify a supervisor if you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Under the New York City Human Rights Law, employees who are owners, supervisors and managers are personally liable if they create or condone the sexual harassment or hostile work environment.  Also, under city law, there is no requirement that the conduct be severe or pervasive in order to be actionable.  In fact, one instance of sexual harassment can be enough.  

While it may be hard to come forward and report sexual harassment, doing so may be the only way to stop the inappropriate behavior. If you are unsure of the proper steps to take or whether you are actually experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, you should consult with the New York sexual harassment lawyers at Fitapelli & Schaffer who can both provide you with sound legal advice or bring a lawsuit on your behalf to correct any workplace abuses you have experienced.