Almost three years ago, the #MeToo movement began widespread exposure of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. This expanded to include nearly every other industry in the country, but much of the focus has remained on the film and television businesses. New York City sexual harassment attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in claims for sexual harassment on Wall Street, in television and theater productions, and elsewhere. In the summer of 2020, sexual harassment in the video game industry began to gain greater attention. This could partly be because of the COVID-19 pandemic — as more people stay at home to prevent the spread of the disease, many of them have turned to video games. This has directed more attention not only to the game development companies, but also the competitive side of gaming, commonly known as “esports,” and livestreams hosted by gamers. A June 2020 New York Times report describes widespread allegations of sexual harassment in these parts of the industry.
Most laws that directly address sexual harassment apply specifically to workplaces and employment relationships. Under these laws, sexual harassment is considered to be unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex or gender. This often involves harassment by a supervisor or manager. It could also involve one or more coworkers, clients, customers, or other individuals in situations where the employer knows about the harassment, but fails to act.
As we know from #MeToo, sexual harassment can occur in situations where no direct employment relationship exists. The now-archetypal example, of course, is that of the film producer who demands sexual activity from someone with the accompanying threat — express or implied — to their career prospects if they say no. In those situations, other laws may support a legal claim for sexual harassment, aiding and abetting sexual harassment, or failing to intervene to prevent sexual harassment. This might include claims for negligence or intentional torts, as well as claims based on breach of contract.