Articles Posted in Sexual Harassment

Two well-known public figures in New York are in the news this month and, in each circumstance, the basis for their scandals relates back (at least in part) to their alleged actions at previous workplace holiday party events. These news stories are stark reminders of the fact that, while workplace holiday parties should be a joyous and celebratory time, they’re too often marred by employees who engage in sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. If that has happened to you, the law allows you to seek compensation, so you should promptly get in touch with an experienced New York City sexual harassment lawyer.

Current New York State Attorney General Letitia James has been accused by some of seeking to improperly protect longtime former chief of staff, Ibrahim Khan, in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him. In 2017, a former coworker accused Khan of drugging and sexually assaulting her at a 2014 holiday party held at a Tribeca pub, according to the New York Post.

James’s aide isn’t the only New York public figure under scrutiny for his holiday party behavior. There’s also a former bureau chief within the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. Multiple women made numerous allegations, including one DA’s office employee who alleged that, at a holiday party, the chief engaged in unwanted touching of her leg and also made comments “of a sexual nature” about the woman’s shoes and legs, the Post reported.

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As most people — lawyers and non-lawyers alike — know, most civil lawsuits start with a complaint, followed by a response from the defense, after which comes pre-trial discovery and motions, possible settlement negotiations, and if the case is still unresolved, a trial. Sometimes, though, cases don’t follow that usual path. An experienced New York City sexual harassment lawyer can help your hostile work environment case in lots of ways, especially when your case doesn’t follow the typical pattern listed above.

For example, what do you do when you file your sexual harassment complaint and the defense responds by doing… nothing?

That was the scenario facing B.M., a woman working in the investments and finance business. She was a successful hedge fund analyst and consultant who, in 2021, took a position in investor relations with a Lower Manhattan-based firm.

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The phrase “holistic approach” is popular in many fields these days, from education to healthcare to business. The word holistic, according to the Oxford Dictionary, means “characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.” What does that have to do with employment law? More than you might think, especially if you have been the victim of a pervasively hostile work environment. A recent hostile work environment case from just to our north reinforces the rule that, in hostile work environment cases, the courts must consider the misconduct not as a series of separate events but rather as a single picture to be assessed holistically. Whether the harassment you endured was pervasive or was less frequent but more egregious, a knowledgeable New York City hostile work environment lawyer can help you get the relief you deserve.

The employee in the case, V.M., was a machine equipment operator in the highway department of a town in Rockland County. The operator’s decade-long time on the job was permeated with a wide array of acts of sex discrimination and harassment, according to her lawsuit. One supervisor allegedly barred her from using the women’s restroom in the administrative portion of the highway department office, thereby forcing her to change clothes in a closet infested with rats.

A non-supervisory male member of another crew allegedly tried to close V.M.’s fingers in doors and blocked her pathway in the parking lot. A foreman on a different road crew “bullied [V.M.] by making “disgusting noises” when she passed him and blocking doorways she tried to enter,” according to the complaint. That foreman also allegedly yelled at V.M. for refusing to drive a truck that she’d previously identified as needing maintenance work.

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Many studies agree that sexual harassment is a widespread problem in the restaurant industry. Last summer, around the same time that celebrity chef Mario Batali agreed to settle a case brought by the New York Attorney General, NPR reported that a 2021 study from Social Science Research Solutions found that 71% of female restaurant workers had experienced some degree of sexual harassment on the job. For female tipped workers, the number was even higher, at 76%. If you’ve endured harassment in your restaurant work, you don’t have to be quiet and tolerate it. Instead, you can take action by getting in touch with a knowledgeable New York City sexual harassment lawyer to discuss and go over your legal options.

Undeniably, workplace harassment is damaging to its victims. On top of the harassment itself, speaking out against harassment comes with its own separate set of problems, mainly retaliation. Complaining about inappropriate comments, jokes, or sexual advances, whether perpetrated by coworkers, supervisors, or customers, potentially can cost some women their jobs. For those living “paycheck to paycheck,” a sudden and unplanned job loss like that can be catastrophic.

This harassment is almost always more than just an intemperate remark or a few slightly problematic jokes. Take, for example, the sexual harassment case of R.C. and several other female workers at a Rochester restaurant.

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The law against workplace sexual harassment derives from the public policy that strongly condemns such behavior. The law that allows a harassment victim to hold her employer liable for coworker harassment similarly condemns harassment and requires employers to develop responses that likewise demonstrate the employer’s stringent opposition to workplace sexual harassment. If your employer did not respond appropriately, then you may be entitled to hold it liable, even if your harasser stopped of his own accord. A harasser stopping on his own is rare, but does happen and, when it does, it represents a significant wrinkle and potential complication for your case. It does, however, doom your case. Consult with a knowledgeable New York sexual harassment lawyer to learn what options the law has for you.

A.P. was one of those workers caught in that type of scenario. Working as an intern for a division of the U.S. Department of Defense at an office upstate in 2019 and 2020, she encountered a male coworker who allegedly engaged in multiple acts of sexual harassment.

The harassment alleged was very overt and was of the sort that will ring all too familiar to many working women. According to the complaint, the man sent the woman numerous messages on Facebook Messenger describing things like his being naked and self-pleasuring while working from home, having sex dreams about the woman, and becoming aroused thinking about her. He told her about his desire to look up her dress t work, he sent the woman a picture of his genitals, he asked her about her favorite sexual positions, and he inquired about whether or not she wore underwear, the woman alleged.

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A recent commercial for Apple’s iPhone touts the device’s ability to keep your private information private. The commercial points to an ever-increasing concern in today’s world. We all know that we have personal information stored in a variety of places and, in some of those, we’re not the one in control of the flow of that content. Sometimes, the concern is the exposure of information that could be personally or professionally damaging to you. When the one doing that disclosing is your employer and the reason they’re doing it is a retaliatory one, then you may be entitled to sue and obtain compensation under the newly amended New York State Human Rights Law. A knowledgeable New York City workplace retaliation attorney can help show you how to accomplish this.

Earlier this year, the New York legislature passed S.5870/A.7101, and Gov. Kathy Hochul signed it into law. The bill amended Section 296 of the New York State Human Rights Law to expand the definition of what can constitute actionable retaliation. The new definition says that retaliation “may include… disclosing an employee’s personnel files because he or she has opposed any practices forbidden under this article or because he or she has filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any proceeding under this article…”

In other words, if you were engaged in a protected activity and your employer, in an attempt to harm you, disclosed some or all of your personnel file, then that’s against the law now. The range of protected activities can be anything from, say, testifying in a coworker’s age discrimination case to filing your own formal sexual harassment claim to complaining to your supervisor about race discrimination in your work area to assisting a colleague in their sexual orientation discrimination case. These are just a few examples.

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A recent ruling in a case involving female servers at a Brooklyn diner is important and instructive for several reasons. Not the least of which is that it reminds readers that the standards for proving sex discrimination or sexual harassment are different under the New York City Human Rights Law as opposed to state or federal law. Understanding the differences between the NYCHRL, the New York State Human Rights Law, and federal law can be crucial to your sex discrimination or sexual harassment case, so make sure that, before you file, you retain the services of an experienced New York City sex discrimination lawyer.

During her time working at the diner in Brooklyn, B.S. allegedly endured a variety of gross sexual improprieties and impositions. According to the server’s sexual harassment complaint she filed in federal court, her male supervisor once followed her into the women’s restroom, where he “cornered” her and exposed himself to her. On another occasion, that man allegedly asked B.S. to touch his genitals.

Unfortunately, the harassment was not limited to that supervisor. Other male workers at the diner allegedly touched the woman “in sexually inappropriate ways” and also would “leer and jeer at her in a sexual manner.” The server complained to other supervisors but, according to the lawsuit, they simply laughed at her. Not long after that, the diner fired B.S.

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In this day and age, you might think that people in supervisory roles in the workplace would understand that the team members who work for them are not their dating pool. Regrettably, if you thought that, you’d often be proven wrong, as court dockets have no shortage of cases where exactly that sort of misconduct allegedly occurred. People go to work to achieve goals, get paid, and maybe make the world a better place, not to be “hit upon” or propositioned. If you have endured that kind of workplace, don’t think you simply have to put up with it. Instead, get in touch with a knowledgeable New York City sexual harassment lawyer to discuss your options.

J.F., a woman in her 30s, allegedly was one of those workers who endured that sort of sexual harassment. It began in March 2019, when she took a job as a merchandise coordinator with an e-commerce entity in New York City. Allegedly, the sexual harassment began almost immediately.

During the woman’s first week on the job, her male supervisor asked her a string of problematic questions, which included things like “are you a lesbian?” and “do you have cats?” The supervisor explained his question by opining that he “figured at your age that if there weren’t kids or marriage that there must be a cat in the picture,” according to the complaint.

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Sexual harassment is never OK. It’s not just wrong, it’s also against the law when it happens at work. Those truths don’t change based upon what you do for a living. While the fine details of what does or does not constitute a hostile workplace might shift slightly based upon your type of employment, you’re entitled to be free from sexual harassment on the job no matter what you do. If your work experience includes sexual harassment, don’t think that simply must tolerate it. Instead, reach out to an experienced New York City sexual harassment lawyer.

The laws against sexual harassment apply to the strip club industry, but these jobs are often rife with sexual harassment and sexual assault. A 2019 article from the New York Times cited a study that showed the vast majority of exotic dancers surveyed had experienced sexual assault and/or sexual harassment at work. While the women surveyed danced in Portland, Oregon, it is reasonable to imagine that a study of New York City dancers would reveal roughly similar results.

Recently, a dancer at a Queens club sued — and won compensation — based upon the sexual harassment she endured.

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For about as long as workers have endured sexual harassment on the job, others have tried to rationalize that harassment away. Not every actionable instance of sexual harassment is as obvious or clear-cut as a 1990s Michael Douglas-Demi Moore motion picture. People may try to trivialize your victimization as mere “jokes.” They may try to dismiss it as not valid because the harasser wasn’t trying to get sexual favors from you. Don’t listen to them. Instead, get the knowledgeable advice you need from a skilled New York City sexual harassment lawyer.

Two of the more common excuses used to try to sweep away sexual harassment is that either (a) it wasn’t harassment because the harasser’s inappropriate comments were just ordinary workplace jokes or teasing, or (b) it wasn’t sexual given the genders and the sexual orientations of the harasser and the victim.

These excuses don’t fly according to the law, as a recent federal court ruling in a hostile work environment case again reminds us.

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