Laws at the city, state, and federal levels in New York City prohibit discrimination by employers on the basis of sex, and they all include sexual harassment in their definitions of sex discrimination. This can involve harassment by a member of any sex against a member of the same or any other sex. That said, most New York City sexual harassment attorneys would probably tell you that the type of case they still most commonly encounter involves a male supervisor or manager harassing a female employee. A lawsuit that is currently pending in a New York City federal court presents this sort of scenario. The plaintiff is alleging causes of action under laws at all of the three levels we mentioned above. The defendants include the City of New York, the police department, and multiple public officials. As a result, the lawsuit also asserts a cause of action for civil rights violations.
Sexual harassment constitutes sex discrimination in two general circumstances:
1. Quid pro quo sexual harassment: Agreeing or submitting to sexual advances or demands is a condition of getting a job, keeping a job, or other terms or conditions of employment. For example, a movie producer refuses to cast someone unless they agree to sexual activity in some form, or a restaurant manager gives the best shift assignments to servers who meet the manager’s sexual demands.
2. Hostile work environment: Pervasive and unwelcome sexual behavior renders the workplace unreasonably hostile and impedes a person’s ability to do their job. For example, an employee is repeatedly subjected to unwanted sexual comments or touching, or management refuses to address a work environment laden with inappropriate and offensive jokes.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit described earlier states in her complaint that she began working for the NYPD as an officer in 2012. She alleges that in 2015, her direct supervisor began subjecting her to a hostile work environment in the form of “unwanted physical contact” and “highly inappropriate sexual comments.” She further alleges that, after she informed the supervisor that his conduct was not welcome, her superiors reassigned her to a position she did not request, and which she states was generally “considered undesirable.” This, she claims, was retaliation for her “unwillingness to engage in sexual and promiscuous activities with male officers.”
The hostile work environment and retaliation continued, the plaintiff alleges, throughout 2016, including numerous “retaliatory scare tactics.” More officers became involved in the alleged harassment in 2017, including a new supervisor. She filed additional retaliation complaints, but claims that no significant action was taken, and that the harassment continued up to the date she filed the lawsuit in August 2019.
The lawsuit names as defendants the City of New York, the NYPD, an NYPD police union, and seven individual NYPD officials. It asserts three causes of action specifically against the city and the NYPD under federal law:
1. Discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
2. Retaliation under Title VII; and
3. Deprivation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The complaint alleges discrimination, retaliation, and aiding and abetting against all the defendants under both the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law.
At Phillips & Associates, our team of knowledgeable and skilled sexual harassment lawyers advocates for the rights of New York City employees, former employees, and job applicants, helping them assert legal claims for unlawful workplace practices. Please contact us online or at (212) 248-7431 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights and options.