Hardly a day has gone by in recent months without a new report about sexual harassment. The stories are frequent and loud because many involve names we recognize. Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, and Brett Ratner are just a few of the people accused of acting in sexually inappropriate ways towards women and men. Politicians, chefs, artists, and others are facing off with their accusers.
The allegations in many of the situations are startling, and some are quite graphic. Some may even result in criminal prosecution. The victims? Even more popular names. Terry Crews, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino, and a long list of other aspiring actresses, actors, models, writers, directors, and comedians.
Perhaps it is because of the very public nature of the victims (or perpetrators) of sexual harassment that hundreds, even thousands, of people have come forward with stories of similar treatment at their jobs. Who hasn’t seen “#me too” on someone’s Facebook page or twitter feed in recent weeks? This viral public airing of sexual harassment has led to proposed congressional legislation called the Member and Employee Training and Oversight on Congress Act also called the “Me Too Act.” The Act is the product of a bipartisan effort to implement better reporting options for victims of sexual harassment who work on Capitol Hill. The Act, if it becomes law will also protect interns from sexual harassment. Existing policies do not include interns.
What can we learn from all of this? No one is immune from sexual harassment. There is no employee, male or female, in any line of work, who may not at some time, face sexual harassment. A recent article in the New York Times points to some “universal” considerations that victims of sexual harassment may want to think about when deciding what to do about their predicament. If you have been sexually harassed at your place of employment, attorneys at Leeds Brown Law, P.C., representing employees in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area, are available to help.
New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), and the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) all prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace.
Sexual harassment occurs when individuals or several people make lewd comments or jokes, show pictures, make repeated sexual propositions, touch you against your will or engage in other inappropriate behavior. If such behavior is severe or pervasive enough to make you feel threatened or unsafe or make it difficult to do your job, it may violate the law. Sexual harassment can also violate the law when a supervisor conditions an aspect of a subordinate’s employment on the performance or non-performance of a sexual act. For example, if your boss tells you that he will fire you unless you have sex with him or that she will not hire you unless you submit to her advances.
Thinking about your goal may help you to determine what actions to take both immediately and down the road.
Yes. Consulting with experienced sexual harassment lawyers can help you find the best way to navigate your situation. It is important that you understand all your options before doing anything that might jeopardize your safety, well-being or employment.
Your sexual harassment lawyers can focus on issues you may not have thought about. For example, is a criminal complaint appropriate? Are you in danger of being physically injured? Are there specific actions you must take to comply with your employer’s policies? How much time is left on the statute of limitations?
It is important that you make a record of important conversations and actions that could be used as evidence of sexual harassment. One way to do this is to keep a diary. Write things down as quickly as you can after events occur. Be descriptive and include information about:
There is information other than that directly related to sexual harassment which can be important if your employer retaliates against you. Consider keeping copies of performance reviews and emails related to your work product. If you receive positive verbal feedback, include the details in your work diary.
In some cases, employees are directed to file an internal complaint, or they risk losing some of their options. Be sure to check your employee handbook and comply with its requirements. There may be a designated person. There may also be a procedure to follow.
If you decide to file an internal complaint, it becomes even more important that you keep copies of your complaint and all supporting information and document what happens after.
Since federal and state laws (and city) govern sexual harassment, you may have to file a complaint against your employer with an agency. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency that oversees employment discrimination laws like Title VII. The New York State Division of Human Rights receives complaints as well as the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Some sexual harassment laws allow you to proceed directly to the lawsuit stage if you choose.
Filing a complaint in the right place may affect the outcome of your case. Filing it promptly is essential to the preservation of your legal rights.
Do you suspect that some of your current or former co-workers have also experienced sexual harassment at your place of employment? If possible, get their names, contact information, and the details of their experiences. You can discuss the prospect of a class action suit with your sexual harassment attorneys.
If you have suffered because of sexual harassment at the hands of a co-worker, supervisor or manager, there are many things to consider. Speaking with lawyers at Leeds Brown can help you formulate a plan of action that meets your goals. Our sexual harassment lawyers have decades of experience securing favorable outcomes for victims of employment discrimination in the New York metro area. We can help you get the monetary damages you deserve when your employer violates your rights.
Call Leeds Brown today at 1-800-585-4658 for a free evaluation of your sexual harassment claim.