A Federal Lawsuit in New York Again Puts a Spotlight on Sexual Harassment Inside a Major News Network

We’ve almost all seen them. They’re the shows featuring some combination of men and women sitting around discussing the news, politics, or sports issues of the day. While everything may be all smiles on set, behind the scenes may tell a different story. Workplaces like these where people are required to spend long hours working closely together can be a breeding ground for sexual harassment. If you’ve suffered sexual harassment in your TV job, know that there are legal options out there for you. Reach out to a knowledgeable New York employment lawyer to learn more about the best ways to protect your career and yourself.

According to one on-air personality, hers was one of those hostile workplaces. The alleged harasser and the alleged victim were the two co-hosts of a “political entertainment” TV talk show. Both were known celebrities. The alleged victim, B.M., was a former reporter and desk anchor for a major sports network and the alleged harasser, G.M., was a former professional wrestler.

According to B.M., G.M. sent her multiple text messages commenting on her appearance and making overtly sexual comments and also made in-person comments of a similar nature. B.M. eventually reported the harassment to the executive producer of the pair’s TV show but allegedly was rebuffed.

After G.M. learned about B.M.’s boyfriend, his treatment of her allegedly worsened. Eventually, B.M. filed a lawsuit based on the harassment.

When you’re the victim of sexual harassment in New York City, you have several legal options for seeking compensation. There’s Title VII, which is the federal law that makes workplace sexual harassment actionable, there’s the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and there’s the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

Perhaps the most important thing to know about these laws is that they erect different standards regarding what is — or is not — compensable sexual harassment. At the time that B.M. filed her lawsuit, the NYCHRL created the lowest hurdle to success, because the other two laws said that, for a plaintiff to win, the harassment must have been “severe” or “pervasive,” a standard the NYCHRL did not require.

(In 2019, the NYSHRL was amended and the “severe or pervasive” requirement was removed.)

You May Have Multiple Bases for Getting a Judgment and Compensation

Another useful thing that this case reminds readers is that, depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to pursue extra claims beyond just sexual harassment. If your employer took adverse employment action against you (such as termination, demotion, reduction of hours, etc.) because you reported the harassment or pursued your legal rights regarding the harassment, then you may have a retaliation claim.

Or, as was the circumstance in this TV case, you may have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. For your harassment case to also be a viable intentional infliction of emotional distress case, you need evidence that what you incurred was “extreme and outrageous conduct.”

The appeals court pointed out that B.M. had asserted “a campaign of unwanted and crude sexual texts spanning two months, from a co-worker with whom her job duties required her to spend concentrated time.” The complaint also included allegations of “doctored text messages, including photos purported to be of [B.M.’s] near-naked breasts” and a “multi-dimensional campaign to retaliate against [B.M.], which resulted in her being shunned from valued platforms” with the employer. Put together, all of that was extreme and outrageous enough to give the alleged victim a viable claim.

Whether you are a construction worker, a warehouse worker, a fashion industry worker, or an on-air TV personality, sexual harassment is an insidious thing that can harm you professionally and personally. Don’t suffer in silence. Instead, talk to the sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys have a long track record of fighting successfully for victims like you, and we’re ready to get to work on your case. Contact us online or at (212) 248-7431 today to set up a free and confidential consultation.

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