What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment can happen anywhere. It usually takes place in workplaces, colleges and other public places. For example, a customer who visits a coffee shop every day may be sexually harassed by an employee. A manager may sexually harass a coworker, and a fellow student may sexually harass someone at a college. These incidents can be emotionally traumatic for victims. Not all sexual harassment cases are handled properly. Fortunately, attorneys can help you work through the emotional damage that is left behind if managers or authority figures do not provide adequate help.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment can include gestures, touching, written words and spoken words. The words, gestures and other communications are unwanted and offensive. These are a few examples of sexual harassment:

  • A coworker sending pornographic emails or sexual jokes.
  • A coworker sending sexual text messages.
  • An employer, professor or fellow student making sexual gestures or comments.
  • An employee making sexual remarks or compliments to a customer.

Types of Sexual Harassment in New York

According to the law, sexual harassment is usually classified in one of two ways. It may be in the form of creating a hostile workplace or in the form of quid pro quo. A hostile workplace exists when sexual harassment is frequent and blatant. The actions create an unpleasant atmosphere for the victim. Such actions usually include pranks, jokes, statements or signs. In this harassment category, the harassers may be coworkers, customers or superiors. If the unwanted communications cause the victim a loss of productivity, stress, humiliation or discomfort, there may be grounds for a lawsuit.

With quid pro quo, sexual harassment takes place in the form of a superior offering job benefits or promotions in exchange for sexual favors. This type of harassment is only cited when supervisors, managers or executives are the offenders. Harassment does not need to include touching. In some cases, it can be romantic propositioning. For example, a manager may ask a coworker on a date several times. If the worker continually declines the offer, the repeated questions can become harassment.

Who Should Seek Legal Help?

Victims may be the same or different genders. Any person who is the victim of sexual harassment from another person should speak up about it. New York’s Human Rights Law applies to employees and protects them from harassment in the workplace. This law is applicable for companies with four or more workers, and the law protects people who work for private individuals. For example, the law would protect a housekeeper who works for a family. However, companies that have more than 15 staff are also required to protect workers from sexual harassment under the Title VII federal law.

If you were harassed by a manager or superior, the company that you work for could face strict repercussions. This is especially true if the company has the power to control working conditions for all involved parties. The first step is to report the incident to the manager or the individual who is listed in the employee handbook. However, employers may still be held legally responsible for sexual harassment that their leadership figures commit. This is true even if they respond properly to a complaint.

New York City Sexual Harassment Attorneys Can Help

One of the biggest reasons to report sexual harassment in the workplace is to protect yourself and others. Any form of sexual harassment can leave emotional scars and can damage your self-esteem. If you have been sexually harassed at work or in another public place, one of our attorneys can help you determine if you have legal recourse to collect compensation for damages. With locations in Midtown, Downtown and Long Island, we proudly serve the entire New York City area. Please contact us for a free case evaluation.

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