Sexual harassment has a devastating effect on countless numbers of workers. When a person experiences repeated and unwanted sexual attention in the workplace, a variety of consequences tend to follow. This can include harm to the person’s self-esteem, a reduction in productivity and even the loss of employment. Being sexually harassed by anyone in the workplace is a cause for concern, but there are additional layers of harm when the owner of the company is perpetrating the harassment.
The power dynamic between an owner and an employee is extremely unequal. The ability of the employer to use that position to coerce sexual favors from an employee creates a high level of anxiety and stress. On top of the financial harm done to the worker, there is never any assurance that the harassment will ever end. This situation creates incredible pressure on the employee, but there are actions that can be taken to redress this situation. Always get in contact with a legal professional with a history of successfully litigating sexual harassment cases against perpetrators who hold a position of power or authority.
Defining Sexual Harassment
The main feature of any sexual harassment is the unwanted quality of this attention. However, rebuffing sexual advances from the owner of a company can create a hostile work environment as well. If the harassment is intended to extract a sexual favor in exchange for securing employment or a promise of promotion, this is called quid pro quo harassment. If the workplace is permissive of the harassment, this is called a hostile work environment. In both cases, the owner of the company can be held liable for creating these conditions.
Verbal harassment also qualifies as an illegal activity under the legal code. In addition, a variety of other actions also qualify as creating a hostile work environment. This may include repetitious actions that target the person in a sexual way. It can also include comments about the person that focus on their gender in an inappropriate manner without explicit sexual content. Other forms of harassment may include written comments that are meant to cause offense, embarrassment or humiliation. These comments can be used as evidence of sexual harassment, so you should always keep a copy in a file that is safely hidden from the perpetrators.
Employer Obligations, Sexual Harassment Laws
Employees are protected by laws that make sexual harassment illegal at the local, state and federal levels. The owner of a company can be liable for damages for violating these laws. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends legal protections at the federal level. However, this only applies if the company has more than 15 employees. In addition, the employee experiencing sexual harassment must file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC. The case will be reviewed, and the EEOC might grant the employee the right to sue the employer if no settlement out of court can be reached.
Employees are also protected at the state and local level. Human Rights Law, or HRL, applies to New York City and New York State. These laws protect employees at companies that have as few as four employees. Our law firm can help you to navigate the particular legal situation that you are facing. Being sexually harassed by the owner of a company is simply unacceptable. If you face this situation, take action immediately, and make an appointment for a free legal consultation.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
Legal assistance is valuable when dealing with sexual harassment by the owner of a company. However, there are other benefits of working with a qualified legal professional. For example, you can get useful advice on how to deal with the daily situation in a way that builds your case. This perspective can help you to make it through this difficult period while documenting the evidence you need to prevail in the courtroom. Our legal team is here to support you every step of the way.