Bronx Family Court Grants Protective Order in Sexual Harassment Dispute

A Bronx County Family Court granted a protective order to a woman alleging sexual harassment against her union boss. The complainant was previously in an intimate relationship with the respondent, which gave the family court jurisdiction to grant the protective order. She claimed that, after their relationship ended, the respondent stalked and sexually harassed her both during and outside of work. In situations where alleged sexual harassment occurs during or after a relationship between the complainant and the alleged harasser, New York’s Family Court laws offer several tools not found in anti-discrimination laws.

The complainant is employed as a bus operator by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in the Bronx. The respondent is the Bronx and Manhattan division chair in the local Transportation Workers’ Union (TWU) chapter. His job, according to the New York Daily News, is to track assault claims by bus operators in the two boroughs. He and the complainant were reportedly in an intimate relationship for about two years, but it ended when she broke it off in August 2012. She claims that he began stalking and harassing her, “menacing her at work,” posting intimate photographs online without her permission, and attempting to get her fired if she would not renew their relationship. A relative of the complainant described the respondent’s conduct as a “war of terror” on her.

The complainant subsequently married, and then filed an application for a protective order in Bronx County Family Court. A family court can issue a protective order against a person who is or has been in an intimate relationship with the applicant under § 812(1) of the New York Family Court Act. These types of orders are common when paired with a criminal prosecution for domestic violence, stalking, or other offenses, but an individual can apply without a concurrent criminal case. Supreme courts have jurisdiction to grant protective orders as well, but only in cases involving divorce, child support, or child custody.

After a hearing in late January 2014, a family court judge granted a protective order against the respondent. The exact terms of the judge’s order are unclear, as the parties agreed to a modified temporary order. Under this order, the respondent is barred from all contact with the complainant aside from “legitimate work-related purposes and communication.” The case is set for a trial in March, in which the court will determine whether to grant a longer or more expansive order of protection.

Sexual harassment, including all of the acts alleged by the complainant in the present case, are prohibited by municipal, state, and federal anti-discrimination laws. This includes the New York City Human Rights Law and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These laws allow an employee to sue for damages caused by unlawful sexual harassment, including compensatory damages and back pay, as well as injunctions preventing further harassment. These laws do not necessarily offer the same remedies as an order of protection, which can be enforced in the family court by contempt. This gives an alleged harasser an immediate incentive to avoid the complainant.

The sexual harassment lawyers 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. Contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

University Dismisses Chair of Philosophy Department After Report Finds Extensive Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, February 6, 2014
Appellate Court Allows Plaintiffs to Place Inappropriate Pictures Received From Defendant Into Evidence in New York Sexual Harassment Lawsuit, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 22, 2014
Appeals Court Decision Shows Any Employer in New York and Elsewhere May be Held Accountable for Sexual Harassment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 8, 2014

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