Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited under both state and federal law. In fact, when an employee is the victim of sexual harassment, he or she can take legal action by reporting the employer to various state and federal agencies and by filing a civil lawsuit to obtain compensation for damages.
Sexual harassment lawsuits can be difficult to litigate because of the sensitive nature of the claims and/or because often there are conflicting accounts of what occurred in the workplace. For that reason, it is very important to have an experienced legal advocate on your side if you have been the victim of sexual harassment at work.
At Ginarte O’Dwyer Gonzalez Gallardo & Winograd, our New York and New Jersey employment law attorneys have extensive experience representing victims of sexual harassment. We are ready to put our experience to work for you, helping you to build your case and get the maximum compensation you deserve from an employer who mistreated you or allowed you to be mistreated.
Give us a call today at 888-GINARTE (446-2783), or fill out our online contact form to learn more about how our NY / NJ sexual harassment lawyers can help. We offer free initial consultations and claim reviews.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
The legal definition of sexual harassment is very broad and encompasses many different types of situations. Sexual harassment can occur between any two or more individuals in the workplace. A man may sexually harass a woman. A woman may sexually harass a man. A woman may harass a woman, and a man may harass a man. Recent caselaw has established that sexual harassment includes more than just men harassing women. In 1995, a pizza company was sued after a female supervisor inappropriately touched a male employee and then fired him when he rebuffed her advances. The male employee was awarded $237,000 in damages. A 1998 case involving a Louisiana man claiming harassment by a male manager also made clear that same-sex sexual harassment was prohibited under federal civil rights laws found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Forms of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can consist of a harasser in a powerful position trading sexual favors for career perks or denying career advancement when rejected. When this type of harassment does occur, it is typically referred to as “quid pro quo” (this for that) harassment.
Quid pro quo harassment is the legal term for any harassment where hiring, firing or terms and conditions of employment are affected by acceptance or refusal of sexual advances or sexual behavior. Examples of quid pro quo harassment include situations where a manager fires a worker for rejecting sexual advances, or takes adverse employment action against a worker because he or she refuses to provide sexual favors. These are both examples of quid pro quo harassment.
Another type of harassment can be equally damaging and is equally illegal. This type of harassment is called “hostile work environment” harassment. Hostile work environment harassment occurs when the workplace is made unpleasant for an employee in some way related to his or her sex. For example, if a female employee is repeatedly subjected to sexual comments or innuendo by her male co-workers, this can be an example of a hostile work environment. If a male is forced to work in a workplace where the women routinely make jokes and derogatory comments about him, this can be an example of a hostile work environment. In fact, as noted above, this type of harassment can occur even when the harassers and the victim are of the same gender.
Making a Sexual Harassment Claim
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment of any type, whether hostile work environment or quid pro quo harassment, you have the legal right to take action.
If you wish to make a claim because you have been subjected to a hostile work environment because of your gender, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal agency that investigates and deals with federal civil rights violations in the workplace. The EEOC will investigate your claim and either take action on your behalf or issue you a Right to Sue letter or it can decline to pursue the claim and let you choose to go forward and file a federal lawsuit on your own. You may also seek help from the New York State Division of Human Rights and the New York City Commission on Civil Rights, or you may file a lawsuit based on New York laws prohibiting sexual harassment. Similar remedies are available in New Jersey as well.
When you file a sexual harassment claim, you are entitled to recover compensation for damages you suffered as a result of the sexual harassment. Your employer may be required to compensate you for any actual financial loss that you incurred, such as a loss in salary, if you were terminated or demoted. Your employer may also be required to compensate you for emotional distress that you suffered, and may even be made to pay punitive damages, depending on the situation.
Contact the NY/NJ Sexual Harassment Lawyers at the Ginarte Law Firm Today
At Ginarte O’Dwyer Gonzalez Gallardo & Winograd, we can provide you with the legal assistance you need to build a successful sexual harassment case. Contact one of our experienced New York and New Jersey sexual harassment lawyers today at 888-GINARTE (446-2783), or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation and claim evaluation.