Representing Victims of Sexual Harassment Throughout New York
Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a hot-button issue in light of the widespread claims that have been reported in the media. However, employers have long had a duty to create a harassment-free work environment. Employees who have experienced sexual harassment have legal remedies under existing local, state, and federal laws.
While the majority of sexual harassment victims are women, men can also experience harassment, and same-sex harassment is not uncommon. If you have experienced workplace harassment, an adept attorney can help you find justice.
Scaffidi & Associates provides sophisticated employment law services to clients in the greater New York area. We believe that employees have a right to come to work without fear of being sexually harassed by supervisors, colleagues, vendors, contractors, consultants, or clients. Our attorneys are fully prepared to aggressively pursue sexual harassment claims, inside and outside of court, and will fight for your rights.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as well as the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and 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 an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment, without regard to actual economic injury to or discharge of the individual.
There are two types of workplace harassment — quid pro quo and hostile work environment:
- Quid Pro Quo — This occurs when an employer, often a person in a position of authority, demands sexual favors, either as a condition of employment, or in exchange for certain job benefits, such as raises, bonuses, or promotions.
- Hostile Work Environment — This occurs when an employee is subjected to a pattern of unwelcome conduct consisting of any unwanted verbal or physical advances, sexually explicit derogatory statements, or sexually discriminatory remarks made by someone in the workplace which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, or which interfere with the recipient’s job performance.
Even a single incident can rise to the level of sexual harassment, depending on its severity. If the one joke or comment is severe or pervasive, courts have held, depending on the circumstances, that a single incident could be considered sexual harassment.
Employers are strictly liable for sexual harassment of an employee by an owner or high-level manager. If there are more than one owner or high-level manager, the other owner(s) or manager(s) may be legally responsible for the offending owner or manager, even without knowledge of the sexual harassment.
Additionally, employers may be strictly liable for harassment by a lower-level manager or by a supervisor, if they have a sufficient degree of control over the working conditions of the victim. This may be the case even where the employer does not have knowledge of the sexual harassment.
Moreover, employers may be liable for the harassment of an employee’s coworkers, if the employer knew or should have known about the harassment. Even where an employer is negligent in attempting to prevent or stop the harassment, employers may still be liable.
For these reasons, it is always important to make sure that any notification is in writing and that you retain a copy of any notification that you send.
Sexual Harassment Claims
While Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, all employers are covered under the applicable city and state laws.
Before initiating a sexual harassment lawsuit under Title VII, it is necessary to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If the EEOC cannot resolve the complaint, then a civil lawsuit can be filed. Employees must file with the EEOC within 180 calendar days of the discrimination, or 300 days if the state agency enforces a law prohibiting discrimination on the same basis.
On the other hand, it is not necessary to file a claim with a government agency before filing a lawsuit under the City and State human rights laws. The time in which to file a claim for sexual harassment under the City and State human rights laws has recently been extended from one to three years.
What is employment retaliation?
Individuals who complain about sexual harassment at work are protected from retaliation by employers. Retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse employment action against an employee who files a complaint, such as firing, demoting, or disciplining. In addition, subtle forms of retaliation — changing the employee’s job assignments or directing hostile attitudes at him or her — are also prohibited. Retaliation can even occur after the individual is no longer employed by that employer. This can include giving an unwarranted negative reference for a former employee. An employee who has been retaliated against may have grounds for a civil lawsuit.
How much is my sexual harassment lawsuit worth?
If your claim prevails, the amount of compensation you may receive depends on several factors, including the severity of the sexual harassment along with the amount of time you were subjected to the sexual harassment. Nonetheless, you may be able to recover damages such as lost wages (back and front pay), compensatory damages for emotional distress, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
New York City Sexual Harassment Attorneys
The attorneys at Scaffidi & Associates are dedicated advocates, who tirelessly fight for justice for all of their clients. Keenly aware that victims of sexual harassment experience lingering humiliation, we treat each client with the dignity, respect, and personal attention they deserve. We have a track record of protecting our clients’ rights and helping them obtain just compensation. Above all, we are committed to helping employees understand their rights and responsibilities in the contemporary workplace. Please feel free to call our office or fill out the convenient online contact form.