Office and holiday parties are supposed to be enjoyable times of socializing and celebrating accomplishments with your coworkers. However, they can turn ugly quickly when someone makes an unwanted sexual advance or sexual comments. Since many holiday parties involve alcohol, they are prime places for such occurrences. If you are harassed at a holiday party, you may be able to collect compensation for any damages that resulted from the harassment. Although there are specific laws that deal with workplace sexual harassment, those extend to other venues where company holiday gatherings and office parties are held.
The first thing you should do is report the harassment to your employer. If you fear for your safety, you should also call the police. Your employer likely has a policy about sexual harassment, and most workplace policies are printed in employee handbooks. Follow the suggested steps for reporting the harassment to the right individual. In some instances, the employer may be responsible for the actions of the offending person. For example, imagine that you were harassed by a company executive. The company could be responsible for damages that occur because of the executive’s actions.
If the employer offers you a solution to prevent additional harassment, it may be better to comply. However, if the employer cuts your pay and hours or treats you poorly after that, the employer can be held liable for damages. The law usually favors employers if they offer reasonable remedies that victims refuse. If the company’s remedy looks like discrimination, it will not be honored by a court. When an employer offers you a solution or remedy to a situation that you are unsure of, it is better to contact an attorney.
When managers, supervisors or other superiors sexually harass you, New York City has its own strict laws to protect you. An employer does not have to be aware of the harasser’s actions for you to have a legitimate case. The New York City Human Rights Law also protects you if you report sexual harassment by a coworker to a superior without any success. If a superior ignores the situation, the company is liable to compensate you for any damages that you suffered. For example, you may have been traumatized enough by the incident to need ongoing counseling.
Harassment does not have to be physical. It can be verbal or written. For example, a coworker may have asked you multiple times to meet him after the party for a date or for sex. Someone may write sexual notes to you or send you texts during the party. If the person tries to proposition you or makes sexual remarks, it is harassment. However, harassment also includes inappropriate touching and forceful behavior. If you were also raped or suffered other physical injuries, it is important to report the incident to the police and to your employer immediately. After that, you need an attorney to represent you and file a lawsuit.
If you have any witnesses, written communication or written accounts of verbal statements that were made, collect those to show to an attorney. If your employer schedules a meeting to go over your sexual harassment report, you will also need those documents for that meeting. In New York City, monetary compensation may be ordered by a judge for counseling, medical care or any other needs that came from the incident. Our attorneys consider your past, present and future needs in relation to the extent of the damages. We have offices in Long Island, Midtown and Downtown. Please contact us for a confidential and free case evaluation.