Sexual Harassment Comes in Many Forms and is Illegal
Sexual harassment in the workplace generally involves unwelcome sexual advances or conduct that negatively affects your employment. Sexual harassment can be physical, verbal or visual and includes emails, text messages, and pictures. The harasser can be a supervisor, a co-worker, a potential employer, and others. Importantly, sexual harassment does not always need to be of a sexual nature – it may also involve offensive remarks about a person’s gender or sexual orientation.
Under federal and New York law, there are two main categories of sexual harassment: (1) quid pro quo harassment; and (2) hostile work environment harassment.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when submitting to unwelcome sexual conduct is a condition for employment decisions, such as requiring sexual favors in return for a promotion, a raise, or continued employment. Sexual harassment also includes situations in which a victim is fired, demoted, or passed up for a promotion due to a victim’s rejection of sexual advances.
Hostile work environment sexual harassment – a common form of sexual harassment – exists where an employee is subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that unreasonably interferes with the victim’s ability to perform his or her job OR similar conduct that creates an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment. Examples of such actions that may create a hostile work environment include:
- Inappropriate materials
- Offensive language (in person, emails, or texts)
- Sexually suggestive innuendos
- Sexually-oriented jokes
- Sexual social media posts
- Sexual gestures
- Offensive remarks about the victim’s gender
- Unwanted physical conduct
While the type of conduct amounting to sexual harassment can vary, generally the following factors are considered when determining whether conduct has created a hostile work environment:
- Frequency of the conduct
- Form of conduct – whether it was physical, verbal, or both
- Whether the harasser was a supervisor;
- Whether there was more than one harasser;
- Whether the sexual harassment targeted others as well as the victim.
Sexual harassment is illegal – you can recover money damages and your dignity.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious matter that affects far too many victims. Sexual harassment comes in many forms, affects both women and men, and has a damaging impact on victims’ professional and personal lives. For this reason, employees in New York are protected from sexual harassment by federal, state, and New York City laws.
Bernstein Liebhard Partners Stanley D. Bernstein and Stephanie M. Beige were featured in The Wall Street Journal for their commentary with respect to sexual harassment in the workplace and how nondisclosure agreements can be used to help victims of harassment. The article can be viewed at NDAs Can Help Harassment Victims or you can view the text of the article here.
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is important that you take steps to protect your rights before it is too late. The attorneys at Bernstein Liebhard understand the complexities of pursuing sexual harassment claims and will provide you with compassionate advocacy at no charge unless we recover for you.
Bernstein Liebhard is committed to representing victims of sexual harassment on a contingency fee basis. Bernstein Liebhard LLP is nationally-recognized as one of the top plaintiffs’ firms in the country, being named to The National Law Journal’s “Plaintiffs’ Hot List” 13 times.
We have been representing plaintiffs in litigation since 1993 and have recovered over $3 billion on behalf of our clients. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment and would like to discuss your options, please contact Stephanie M. Beige.
You are protected against retaliation
Don’t be afraid to speak up about sexual harassment. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against victims for reporting sexual harassment, participating in sexual harassment investigations, or participating in hearings on behalf of co-workers who were subject to sexual harassment.
If you have been sexually harassed at work, contact Stephanie M. Beige today for a free, confidential consultation.