Male Plaintiff in New York City Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Harassment by Female Supervisor

Multiple employment statutes protect workers’ rights in New York City. Sexual harassment attorneys can bring claims in state court under city or state law, or they can file in federal court in some situations. Each of these statutes view sexual harassment as a form of discrimination on the basis of sex. This is true regardless of the sex or gender of the individuals involved. The archetypal sexual harassment scenario involves harassment of a female employee by one or more male managers, supervisors, or coworkers. This kind of case appears to comprise the majority of New York sexual harassment complaints filed with state and federal enforcement agencies. A lawsuit recently filed in a Manhattan court, however, demonstrates how female supervisors can allegedly commit unlawful sexual harassment against male employees.

The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination on the basis of numerous factors, including sex and gender. The New York State Human Rights Law includes protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of most of the same factors as city law. At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of five factors, including sex. Sexual harassment has been recognized as unlawful sex discrimination nationwide since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986), which involved harassment of a female employee by a male supervisor. Twelve years after issuing that ruling, the court recognized same-sex sexual harassment as a violation of Title VII in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U.S. 75 (1998).

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates alleged violations of Title VII and other federal statutes. A complaint to the EEOC is a prerequisite to filing a federal lawsuit. Statistics published by the EEOC only show complaints based on Title VII claims, not New York City or New York State law. The EEOC’s numbers still offer insight into what workers around the country are reporting. From fiscal year 2010 to 2019, the EEOC received an average of about 7,284 complaints of sexual harassment per year. Men made an average of 16.8 percent of those complaints.

The plaintiff in the New York City lawsuit mentioned earlier worked as a cook at a residential facility operated by a nonprofit organization. He began working there in 2018, and alleges that his female supervisor subjected him to unwelcome sexual harassment on several occasions. His account of what he describes as the worst of the incidents involves alleged direct, nonconsensual sexual contact. He claims that he “froze” while this occurred, and that he feared for his job if he spoke up about it.

In late 2019, the organization suspended the plaintiff based on allegations by the supervisor that he had abused a resident. The plaintiff states that this was a false report. He also claims that multiple complaints by him to the organization did not result in any remedial action, and that he is not the only individual to complain about this supervisor. The lawsuit names the supervisor and the organization as defendants.

The employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent New York City employees, former employees, and job applicants in claims for sexual harassment and other unlawful practices under state, federal, and city law. These include men who have been harassed by women. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our skilled and experienced team, please contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.

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