A New York City woman has filed suit against her former employer for sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. Thomas v. Eony, LLC, et al, No. 158961/2013, complaint (NY Sup. Ct., NY Co., Sep. 30, 2013). She alleges that the owner of the company where she worked, who was also her direct supervisor, subjected her to ongoing harassment. She further claims that she was forced to quit because of the defendant’s behavior and that this constitutes constructive discharge. The lawsuit asserts claims under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), NY Exec. L. §§ 290 et seq., and the New York City Human Rights Law, NYC Admin. Code §§ 8-101 et seq.
According to her complaint, the plaintiff first encountered the defendant when she answered an advertisement for child models, looking for opportunities for her children. She met with the defendant, who took her to his office and allegedly asked her to remove her blazer. She states that she told him she was not interested in modeling but was there on behalf of her children. He continued to speak as though she were seeking a modeling job and allegedly “forced [her] to show her bare breasts.” Thomas, complaint at 2. He said he would contact her if work became available.
The plaintiff does not say when this encounter took place, but states that the defendant contacted her in May 2012 regarding a receptionist position at a company he owned, Eony, LLC. He allegedly continued to ask inappropriate questions right away, but she states that she took the job because she needed work. She started work on May 21, 2012, and was promoted from “Receptionist” to “Manager” at some point. Her new position required her to be in near-constant contact with the defendant.
He required her to do “rounds” with him, which involved walking around the property that the company managed to check on tenants. Id. at 3. On several occasions, he allegedly led her to empty rooms, where he would remove articles of his clothing. She also claims that he required her to accompany him to the men’s restroom, stand next to him, and have a “conversation” while he urinated. Id. He allegedly made multiple overt sexual overtures, including offering to pay her bills in exchange for sexual activity. The plaintiff quit her job on May 1, 2013, claiming that she “could no longer endure the harassment.” Id. at 5.
The lawsuit asserts causes of action for sex discrimination under the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL. Both statutes treat sexual harassment as a form of sex or gender discrimination. The complaint also claims retaliation under both laws, alleging that the defendant retaliated against her, by constructively terminating her, for speaking out against the workplace harassment. The plaintiff cites a provision of the NYCHRL that makes an employer liable for the unlawful, discriminatory conduct of an employee or agent if they had “managerial or supervisory responsibility.” NYC Admin. Code. § 8-107(13). She also asserts a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is asking for declaratory relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and back pay.
The sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent the rights of workers in New York City and surrounding areas, asserting claims for harassment and discrimination at the municipal, state, and federal levels. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, please contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
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Photo credit: Simone Roda from Italia (Original source: Flickr.com) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.