Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Alleges New York City Employer Did Nothing Despite Substantiating Plaintiff’s Complaint

Employment statutes that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and other factors require employers to take reasonable actions to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and to remedy the situation when they know (or should know) that discrimination or harassment has allegedly occurred. New York sexual harassment attorneys can allege an employer’s failure to remedy a known situation as a distinct unlawful employment practice in violation of city, state, or federal law. A lawsuit filed in early 2020 by a New York City resident claims that her employer failed to act after its own investigation substantiated her allegation of assault by a co-worker. She is asserting causes of action for sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and retaliation.

Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as New York City and State law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which investigates alleged violations of Title VII, states that “petty slights” and “annoyances” typically do not “rise to the level of illegality.” It also maintains that “isolated incidents” do not constitute unlawful harassment “unless extremely serious.”

Employers are vicariously liable for many unlawful acts perpetrated by supervisors and managers against employees. If the alleged harassment is carried out by someone who is not in a supervisory position over a plaintiff, such as a co-worker or customer, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the employer knew or should have known about the harassment, and that they failed to make prompt and reasonable efforts to remedy the situation.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit mentioned above worked for an airline based in New York City. She alleges that she worked on a flight to San Francisco last year. Upon her arrival in San Francisco, she states that she went to dinner with a male flight attendant and two other airline employees. She alleges that, after the group decided to call it a night at around 4:00 a.m., the flight attendant grabbed her and picked her up in the elevator while the other two employees were present, and then attempted to carry her down the hall to his hotel room. She states that she scratched his neck with a free hand and escaped to her own room. She allegedly told one of the other employees the next day, and she contacted the police and the airline. The other employee reportedly confronted the flight attendant, who responded that he “was just playing with her.”

After the airline received the plaintiff’s report, it allegedly removed her, but not the flight attendant, from the next flight. An investigator later contacted her, but the plaintiff claims that they asked questions about her personal life instead of about the alleged assault. The investigator allegedly told her at that time that the airline had substantiated her allegations. However, the plaintiff states, the investigator said that the airline was not going to fire the flight attendant, and encouraged the plaintiff to “be respectful and professional with him.” The burden allegedly fell on the plaintiff to avoid scheduling work with the flight attendant, leading to her demotion by the airline. In addition to harassment and discrimination, the lawsuit also asserts a cause of action for retaliation.

The employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent New York City workers in claims of coworker sexual harassment and other violations of the law. Please contact us at (212) 248-7431 or online today to schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how our knowledgeable and experienced team can assist you.

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