The New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR) recently ruled in favor of two women who filed sexual harassment against claims against their employers. The awards totaled nearly $200,000 and include additional fines and orders to enact anti-discrimination policies. The NYSDHR investigates claims of unlawful employment discrimination under New York state law.
The first case involved a Mexican restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens. The complainant, according to the NYSDHR’s findings of fact, worked there as a waitress, bartender, and cashier from 1991 to 1996 and from 1999 to 2009. She alleged that the restaurant owner began pursuing a sexual relationship with her in June 2009, just after another employee was fired. The owner began with inappropriate compliments and flowers, which she refused. The complainant says he groped her in August or September 2009, and that he would call her late at night, drive by her home, and berate her in front of customers. Female employees who accepted the owner’s sexual advances allegedly received preferential treatment in scheduling and pay.
She quit her job on November 3, 2009, and filed her first NYSDHR complaint on November 5. She had substantial difficulty finding a comparable job and could find nothing that paid the same. She was also treated for depression and anxiety disorder. The NYSDHR awarded her $50,000 in compensatory damages and back wages in three categories: $13,000 for the time the employer paid more to other waitresses, $10,668.68 for the time she was unemployed, and $23,700.06 for the time when she could find work but not for a comparable paycheck.
In the second case, the complainant moved to the United States from South Korea in March 2005. She began working for the respondent business in Flushing, Queens part-time in April 2010. She became full-time in May 2010. Her job duties consisted of scheduling jobs and invoicing for the company, which did cleaning and contracting services. She stated that the owner of the business began making inappropriate advances soon after she started working for him. This included multiple instances of inappropriate touching, even groping. In June 2010, she says he took her to a motel, claiming that it was a client and they were inspecting the premises. Instead, he took her to a room, pulled down her pants, and forcibly tried to kiss her and remove her underwear. He later told her that she would have to have sex with him if she made any mistakes at work. Numerous acts of overt and unwelcome sexual contact occurred over the next few months.
The owner offered to help find the complainant’s boyfriend a job, but then told the complainant she would have to have sex with the prospective employer, which she refused. She finally quit on October 7, 2010, but the owner continued to contact her. He claimed that she only alleged sexual harassment against him because he would not find a job for her boyfriend. She filed a complaint with the NYSDHR on November 24, 2010. The NYSDHR awarded her compensatory damages of $75,000, along with $27,500 in back wages. The employer must pay $25,000 in penalties and fines.
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 call (212) 248-7431.
New York State Division of Human Rights Rules in Favor of Female Employees in Sexual Harassment Cases (PDF), State of New York, Division of Human Rights, July 10, 2012 (source)
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