A recent article posted on Crainsnewyork.com examines the impact the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal is having on businesses in New York. We would be hard-pressed to find a single industry without a foot in our area. Think about it-New York has it all:
Now consider recent scandals that have shattered some of the secrecy surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace:
Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes at Fox News, allegations against CBS, Harvey Weinstein at his production company, Kevin Spacey at the theater and on the set of House of Cards. Celebrity chefs Todd English and Mario Batali at their restaurants, Stephen Rockwell at Death & Taxes, Roy Price at Amazon Studios. Steve Jurvetson at DFJ, Fidelity Investments, Uber, THINX.
The list is endless. Companies and industries like these are central to the economy of New York City and the surrounding areas. Employees in New York are in no way immune to struggles with sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Perhaps Amy Rose Spiegel, the editor in chief at Talkhouse Media, summed it up best when she wrote on Twitter “I’ve been harassed at nearly every job I’ve ever held.”
As more and more individuals are sharing their experiences with harassment, some are naming their accusers, and some are not. Some are filing lawsuits, and some are not. Regardless, it is likely that New York will continue to see an upswing in vocal opposition to sexual harassment.
According to the Crain’s article, “The number of sex-based harassment cases filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in New York state rose 9% over five years, to 1,202 in 2016.” The Cornell Survey Research Institute conducted a poll that revealed 10% of working New Yorkers say they have experienced harassment on the job. These statistics do not include harassment suffered at the hands of vendors or other third parties. Nor do the numbers take into account the vast number of sexual harassment incidents that never get reported.
The article in Crain’s looked further at the restaurant scene in New York City as a potential “hot-spot” for continued and maybe worsening sexual harassment. Some say that restaurants and bars lend themselves to more harassment because of “blurry lines.” They cite conditions including late nights and alcohol consumption that can contribute to a lack of appropriate workplace decorum. According to Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Crain’s reports that “Among tipped employees, 90% have been sexually harassed at work.” When you think of the number of individuals working in the restaurant and hospitality industries in our area (hundreds of thousands), the number of employees experiencing sexual harassment is nothing short of astounding.
Many of these employees are low-wage earners, and it is even more difficult for such workers to stand up for themselves. While retaliation is also illegal, low-wage workers often can’t afford to risk losing their jobs and so silently tolerate sexual harassment. As stories of sexual harassment become increasingly public, employers, newly aware of possible legal consequences, may become more respectful of their employees’ rights.
Advertising, publishing, big law firms, and the public sector may also, according to Crain’s, see a rise in sexual harassment lawsuit activity. There is little doubt that sexual harassment is occurring in these industries in New York City. But some of what happens down the road will depend on how the current “scandalous” cases get resolved. For example,
Women and men may be more likely to come forward if alleged harassers like Harvey Weinstein receive appropriate punishment. If the actor Terry Crews can file a successful lawsuit against being allegedly groped by a male Hollywood agent, perhaps other men can too. If a company makes employees feel comfortable and confident that their complaints will be investigated fairly and that they will not face retaliation, maybe there will be less need for court involvement.
Sexual harassment and gender discrimination are not exact sciences. Each case is different, and outcomes can never be guaranteed. One thing is certain, however; sexual harassment knows no boundaries. It happens in every industry, in every state, and in every city. It can happen to low-wage workers and our nation’s highest earners. Perpetrators can own small restaurants or be CEOs of major international corporations. They can be famous or unknown, supervisors or co-workers.
Victims of sexual harassment have legal rights. Federal, State, and local New York City laws may protect you.
If you have been sexually harassed at work, consider whether you have a claim against your employer. If you have been fired, demoted, transferred or otherwise punished in addition to being sexually harassed, you may also have a claim of retaliation. Both can result in significant monetary damages.
There is a time limit to file claims for sexual harassment. Contact Leeds Brown Law, P.C. for a free evaluation of your claim. We don’t know how much time you have left so don’t wait. Call 1-800-585-4658 today.
Leeds Brown sexual harassment lawyers represent employees in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area. Someone is here to take your call 24/7. Let’s discuss your sexual harassment claim.