Sexual Harassment at New York Office Holiday Parties

Many New York employers are recognizing the importance of flexibility, camaraderie, and team building in developing a reliable and robust workforce. To meet these goals, many employers organize office retreats, family events, and annual holiday parties. However, these events, especially ones including alcohol, can lead to unwanted sexual harassment. Employees who suffer sexual harassment by their New York employer should understand their rights and remedies. Individuals who suffer sexual harassment by their employer or at their workplace should contact a New York sexual harassment attorney to discuss potential recourses.

According to a recent news report, research indicates that over half of companies throwing holiday and end-of-the-year parties will serve alcohol, a five percent increase from 2017. Moreover, studies show that serving alcohol increases the risk of workplace sexual harassment. Employers should take steps to mitigate the risk of unwanted sexual advances and harassment by educating their employees on appropriate standards of behavior and consent.

New York employees who do suffer sexual harassment at an off-site or off-work hours event may still hold their company liable for their harm. Typically, employees understand what constitutes sexual harassment in an office setting, but after-hours harassment may not be as clear. New York law defines sexual harassment as any unwanted sexual advances. These advances can be verbal, physical, or sexual. Some typical example of sexual harassment at a holiday party may include:

  • Inappropriately commenting on a co-worker’s body or attire
  • Coercing someone to drink to lower their inhibitions
  • Attempting to kiss or grope a co-worker
  • Making off-color sexual jokes

Employees often face personal challenges when determining whether to report sexual harassment after a holiday party. They may fear retribution, accusations of exaggeration or overreacting, and embarrassment. However, federal and New Year City, and State laws protect individuals against sexual harassment. New York City has broad protections for employees. Unlike, Federal regulations that require offensive behavior to be “severe or pervasive,” New York City considers any conduct that is more than “petty or slight” or a “trivial inconvenience,” to amount to sexual harassment.

If an individual files a sexual harassment lawsuit against their New York City employer, courts will evaluate various factors to determine whether the behavior constitutes sexual harassment and amounts to a hostile work environment. Courts will look to the impact of the offensive behavior and whether the conduct was unwelcome.

Have You Suffered Employment Discrimination or Sexual Harassment by Your New York Employer?

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment by your employer or co-worker at a holiday party, you should contact the experienced New York sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys understand the uncomfortable and traumatizing impact that sexual harassment has on a person. We work tirelessly to mitigate our clients’ harms and hold the responsible parties accountable. Employees should not have to endure sexual harassment for fear of retaliation or any other adverse employment action. We can help you recoup the damages you suffered, such as payment for lost wages, benefits, and other related losses. Contact our office at 212-248-7431 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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