Two former employees of a women’s organization are suing for sexual harassment and retaliation. They allege that their supervisor subjected them to a hostile work environment and fired them after they complained. What makes this story somewhat unusual is that both complainants and the supervisor are women, which defies some standard gender expectations in cases like this. Laws protecting employees from sexual harassment and discrimination apply regardless of the gender of the alleged victim or perpetrator, provided that the perpetrator’s alleged actions are based on the victim’s gender.
Crystal Alexander and Monique McCabe worked for the National Association of Professional Women in Garden City. From September 2010 until roughly March 2012, both women worked under a manager named Krissy DeMonte. They allege that DeMonte subjected them to sexual harassment during this time period through cat calling, inappropriate comments, and inappropriate and unwanted physical contact. Alexander says that DeMonte would address her with “hey sexy” and similar cat calls. McCabe says that she would call her names like “vixen,” “cutie,” and “hottie,” which made her uncomfortable in the work environment. DeMonte would also grab, pinch, or slap employees on the behind, according to Alexander. Both women described the work environment as requiring them to “walk on eggshells.” They said that going to work became more like walking past “a group of lewd men at a construction site” than an office.
Alexander and McCabe say that they complained of DeMonte to the company’s human resources department. DeMonte reportedly became hostile towards both women after hearing of this, and began “writing them up for frivolous acts.” McCabe was fired several months later, and Alexander was reportedly fired soon after that.
The organization denies all of Alexander and McCabe’s allegations. In a statement, it said it stands by DeMonte. It acknowledged “the seriousness of the situation,” but called the claims “false and unsubstantiated.”
News reports do not indicate when or in which court Alexander and McCabe filed their lawsuit. If they filed in Nassau County Supreme Court or the U.S. District Court, copies of the complaint do not appear to be available to the public yet. Their allegations appear to include sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation, all of which are covered by both federal and New York state law. The media report that the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on gender, race, religion, national origin, or color. The New York Human Rights Law provides similar protections. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that enforces the Civil Rights Act and other anti-discrimination laws nationwide. The New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) enforces New York’s law. Sexual harassment is viewed by these laws as a form of unlawful gender discrimination. This is true even when the alleged harassers and the alleged victim are members of the same gender.
The New York sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent victims of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, fighting to protect their rights. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online, or call (212) 248-7431.
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New York Gastroenterologist Sues Hospital for Sexual Harassment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, June 28, 2012
New York Models Sue Agent for Sexual Harassment, New York Employment Attorney Blog, May 29, 2012
Bartender Sues New York City Restaurant for Sexual Harassment, Citing Obscenely-Shaped Dumplings, New York Employment Attorney Blog, May 8, 2012