A lawsuit filed in a Manhattan federal court by a male dog trainer alleges that his female employer sexually harassed him at her home. Artrope v. Bludhorn, et al, No. 11-cv-5891, complaint (S.D.N.Y., Aug. 23, 2011). The plaintiff is asserting a cause of action for violation of the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), N.Y. Exec. L. § 290 et seq. Because the suit also asserts causes of action under federal wage statutes, he filed the case in federal court.
The NYSHRL, federal anti-discrimination laws, and New York City’s anti-discrimination law all prohibit employment discrimination based on sex or gender. Sexual harassment is generally considered to be a form of gender discrimination. The statutes do not specify gender with regard to sexual harassment. Plaintiffs have recovered damages for male-on-female and female-on-male harassment, and for harassment by a person of the same gender as the plaintiff. The term “reverse sexual harassment” occasionally appears in discussions of cases that do not fit the standard narrative of male-on-female harassment, but workplace harassment of a sexual nature is sexual harassment, no matter the gender of those involved.
The plaintiff worked as a dog trainer for the defendants, a married couple, at their home in Westchester County from September 2008 to July 2009. He states in his complaint that he occasionally did other work for the defendants, but his primary responsibility was dog training. He claims that he often worked seventy-five hour-weeks, which figures prominently in his wage claim. From October 2008 to February 2009, he alleges that the defendant wife sexually harassed him by calling him into her bedroom to assign him work tasks, usually dressed only in “shorts and a tee shirt.” Complaint at 3. She did not change any aspect of these meetings, the plaintiff claims, even after he informed her of his discomfort.
The plaintiff alleges that she asked him to accompany her to another property she owned on February 18, 2009. While in the car on the way to the property, she allegedly propositioned him for a sexual relationship, which the plaintiff says he rejected. After this, he says that she began behaving differently towards him, and that the work environment grew increasingly hostile. Her reviews of his performance became routinely negative, and he claims that he “found it difficult to communicate with her.” Id. at 4. She terminated his employment on July 20, 2009, shortly after he complained about the sexual proposition to his direct supervisor.
In August 2011, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant and her husband. He asserted three causes of action for overtime and wage law violations, and one cause of action for violation of the NYSHRL. Rather than complaining directly of the sexual harassment, the plaintiff’s complaint asserts that the defendants violated the NYSHRL by terminating him in retaliation for making a written sexual harassment complaint.
The lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent victims of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination in New York City and surrounding areas, fighting to protect their rights at the municipal, state, and federal levels. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
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New York Lawsuit Alleged Ongoing Sexual Harassment by Staten Island Doctor, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 31, 2013
New York Restaurant Settles Lawsuit Brought by EEOC, Former Waiter Alleging Male-on-Male Sexual Harassment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, January 23, 2013
Employer Who Fired Worker Because of His Attraction to Her Did Not Commit Unlawful Gender Discrimination, Court Rules, New York Employment Attorney Blog, December 13, 2012