If you have been sexually harassed at work, the person doing the harassing and anyone who has protected that person should be held accountable for their actions. In 2021, the fact that this disturbing behavior is still occurring in workplaces across the country is completely unacceptable.
But it’s not all bad news, and victims of sexual harassment do not need to suffer in silence anymore. This illegal behavior is being investigated more deeply and punished more harshly than ever before. By reporting sexual harassment and seeking legal counsel, you can put a stop to your own harassment while protecting other potential victims, and you may be able to obtain substantial compensation.
Claudia Pollak has been protecting the rights of NY workers for more than 20 years, and has an impressive track record of obtaining settlements that compensate victims of sexual harassment in a timely manner. If you have been a victim of workplace sexual harassment, we can help you get the compensation, and justice, you deserve. Contact a White Plains sexual harassment attorney today at (914) 529-9111 for a confidential consultation about your case.
What Is Considered Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is loosely defined as unwanted and unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. Workplace sexual harassment can affect employees and contract workers, self-employed workers, and job applicants. To rise to the level of harassment, the unwanted behavior must meet certain criteria, notably that it:
Intentionally or unintentionally violated a worker’s dignity; and
Intentionally or unintentionally created a hostile work environment.
In addition to not engaging in sexually harassing behaviors, employers must do everything possible to protect employees, workers, and job applicants from sexual harassment.
Examples of Workplace Sexual Harassment in the NY Workplace
It is common for workers to refrain from reporting actions that make them uncomfortable because they are unsure if those actions constitute sexual harassment. To determine whether you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it may be helpful to review the below information.
Common examples of sexual harassment include:
Making sexual remarks about someone’s appearance, body, or clothing is one of the most common forms of workplace sexual harassment. Comments such as, “Your legs look amazing when you wear short skirts,” are sexually inappropriate and may rise to the level of illegal harassment. The same is true about making sexual advances, asking about someone’s sex life, making comments about someone’s sexual orientation, and any other comments of a sexual nature.
Whether the unwanted touching involves outright groping, or repeatedly brushing against the victim’s buttocks, if it is unwanted and of a sexual nature, it likely constitutes sexual harassment. The touching may be so subtle that the victim is initially unsure about whether or not it is intentional. But if the unwanted touching continues, it is in the victim’s best interest to report the behavior. Even hugging someone against their will may constitute sexual harassment. Unwanted touch can sometimes escalate to the point of sexual assault and rape. Reporting unwanted touching protects you, as well as other potential victims.
Telling sexually offensive jokes, or sharing sexually inappropriate or pornographic cartoons or images, are also forms of sexual harassment in the workplace. Whether the joke is directed at the victim—about their appearance, sex life, or sexual orientation—or has nothing to do with the victim but is sexually offensive and makes the victim uncomfortable, this may constitute sexual harassment. If pornographic images or cartoons of a sexually-offensive nature are displayed, it’s wise to take a picture of these images, as this can be invaluable evidence in a potential lawsuit.
Unwanted Sexual Advances
An unwanted sexual advance is an unwelcome gesture made with the intention of gaining sexual favor from the victim. For example, when a supervisor tells a subordinate that they will be promoted if they join them for a romantic dinner, this is an example of an unwanted sexual advance.
Westchester County, New York State, and Federal Protections
NY workers are protected against sexual harassment in the workplace at the local, state, and federal level.
The Westchester County Human Rights Law, which was passed in 2000, makes it unlawful to commit discriminatory acts in the workplace. This includes all forms of sexual harassment. It is also the only human rights law in the state to specifically prohibit workplace discrimination against victims of sexual abuse, including domestic violence and stalking, and it provides monetary damages in sexual harassment cases involving a pattern of discriminatory behavior.
Under the New York Human Rights Law, it is unlawful for an employer to permit sexual harassment in the workplace of both employees and non-employees, including contractors, vendors, consultants, and any other person providing contract services.
At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers against sex-based discrimination, of which sexual harassment is one form. This federal law applies to government and labor organizations, as well as private employers with at least 15 employees. Furthermore, it protects not only the individual being harassed, but anyone affected by the conduct.
Managers that engage in workplace harassment may cause their employer to be held liable for their actions. In addition, if a co-worker is doing the harassing, the employer may be liable if it knew, or should have known, that their employee was being subjected to workplace sexual harassment, and failed to take corrective action.
Contact Claudia Pollak Law Today
If you have been sexually harassed at work, the legal team at Claudia Pollak Law can help. We have protected the rights of countless New York workers, holding accountable those who engage in illegal discrimination and harassment, and helping victims obtain the compensation and justice they deserve. You do not need to suffer in silence for another day. Our experienced sexual harassment attorneys will evaluate your case, help you gather evidence to substantiate your claim, and position you for the best possible outcome. You’ve been through enough, let us handle the rest. Contact Claudia Pollak Law today at (914) 529-9111 for a confidential consultation about your case.
Claudia Pollak, Esq. is an experienced Westchester and NYC-based employment lawyer representing employees facing discrimination, retaliation or wrongful termination because of their race, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender, or other protected characteristic. She also advises on executive severance agreements and restrictive covenants. Call her at 914-LAW-9111 (914-529-9111) for a free consultation.
Employees in Westchester County and other parts of New York state are protected from discrimination in employment based on a number of personal characteristics.
Some of our most vulnerable populations are experiencing increasingly stressful employment situations. In fact, many workers in America (up to 1 in 5) feel they work in a hostile or abusive work environment.
While many businesses have openly acknowledged the problems of discrimination and inequity facing black workers in America as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement, racial discrimination still regularly occurs in the workplace.
Whether your position is being eliminated in corporate downsizing, or you are getting laid off or fired for another reason, at some point in your life you may find yourself reviewing a severance agreement.
The last thing you need when you’re starting a family – or growing one – is financial uncertainty or the stress and anxiety that comes from becoming the target of discriminatory treatment at work because of your pregnancy.
New York Labor Law §194, requires that employees of a particular establishment be paid a wage that is equivalent to the wages paid to employees of the opposite sex, or of a different race or sexual orientation, or who are members of any other class of employees.
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