New York Sexual Harassment Protections

posted by Charles Joseph  |  Apr 30, 2019 4:15 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

What is workplace sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace covers unwelcome physical contact, demanding sexual favors for employment benefits, and hostile work environments. Hiring managers cannot, for example, promise to hire a job candidate if she sleeps with him and bosses cannot promise a subordinate a raise or promotion in exchange for sexual favors. 

Coworkers, supervisors, and even vendors can violate sexual harassment protections with unwelcome physical contact. This can mean touching, hugging, or brushing up against an employee in a sexual manner. 

Sexual harassment laws also protect employees from hostile work environments. Inappropriate sexual materials at work can violate the law, as can offensive behavior or comments. For example, sexually explicit communications, sexual images, and offensive sexual remarks can all create a hostile work environment.

How do New York sexual harassment laws protect employees?

Like federal laws, New York's sexual harassment laws expect employers to create an environment free from sexual harassment. Employees in New York City benefit from some of the strongest sexual harassment protections in the country. For example, federal law demands "severe or pervasive" offensive behavior to qualify as a hostile work environment. New York City law offers a broader definition. Behavior that surpasses a "petty slight" or "trivial inconvenience" can qualify as a hostile work environment.

New York laws also allow for higher damages than federal laws.  

New York sexual harassment lawyers help employees protect their rights under the state's sexual harassment laws.

What steps can you take to strengthen your case?

Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace can take a few simple steps to strengthen their case if they decide to file a lawsuit.

Federal law states that sexual harassment must be unwelcome and unwanted. Victims should make it clear to the harasser, a supervisor, or the human resources department that the offensive behavior or action is unwelcome and unwanted.

Keeping records of the sexual harassment, any complaints filed, and other information about the harassment can also strengthen your case. As soon as possible, write down what happened, who witnessed the harassment, and any other details. It's important to keep a copy of all records at home. 

In New York, you can request security footage to prove your case. If your employer refuses to provide the footage or says it went missing, a judge can consider that proof in your favor.

Learn more about collecting evidence to prove sexual harassment in our video on proving workplace sexual harassment.

What damages can you receive for workplace sexual harassment?

In New York, judges and juries can award back pay, punitive damages, and emotional distress damages in a sexual harassment case. You can also receive damages if you faced retaliation or lost your job because of the sexual harassment. A judge can also order reinstatement, meaning your company must rehire you.

If you win your case, the judge can also order your employer to pay all of your attorney's fees.

How can a sexual harassment lawyer help?

A sexual harassment lawyer can offer advice on whether to file a lawsuit and what evidence you'll need to build the strongest case. 

Federal, New York state, and New York City laws impose a statute of limitations on filing sexual harassment cases. That means it's a good idea to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Many sexual harassment lawyers offer free, confidential consultations.

You can also read more about your New York sexual harassment protections or reach out to New York sexual harassment lawyer Charles Joseph for a free consultation.

Charles Joseph has over two decades of experience in employment law and sexual harassment. He is the founder of Working Now and Then and the founding partner of Joseph and Kirschenbaum, a firm that has recovered over $120 million for clients.

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