Sexual harassment is unacceptable in Long Island's workplaces. Even though sexual harassment is illegal under federal and state law, sexual harassment remains a prevalent problem in New York's workplaces. Thanks in part to the #metoo movement, efforts to stop sexual abuse in the workplace have been renewed. The Long Island employment lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are proud to be on the front lines of fighting unlawful workplace sexual harassment.
The first step in fighting sexual harassment is identifying it. Under federal and New York state law, sexual harassment can take two forms – hostile work environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment. The Long Island sexual harassment lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC handle all types of sexual harassment cases. Each of these forms of sexual harassment are explained below.
A Hostile work environment exists when a workplace is permeated with offensive or abusive sex based conduct which is unwelcomed. The offensive conduct must be either severe or pervasive. For example, pervasive sex based conduct may exist in a workplace where the male employees post pornographic pictures of women around the office, circulate offensive sex based jokes by email, and talk in a derogatory manner about women in the workplace.
A hostile work environment sexual harassment case may also exist where the conduct may not be ongoing, but happens just once. In that case, courts will look at whether the conduct was sufficiently severe. For example, one offensive sex based joke in the workplace is probably not enough for a sexual harassment claim. But, if an employee forcibly tries to kiss a co-worker, that one incident could give rise to a sexual harassment case.
The other type of sexual harassment lawsuit is known as quid pro quo. Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when a superior demands sex or another sex based favor in exchange for a favorable work assignment, promotion, or other favorable term of employment. The easiest example to understand quid pro quo sexual harassment is where an employee's boss asks a subordinate employee to go on a date with him or her and suggests that if the employee goes on the date, the employee will get a promotion. A quid pro quo sexual harassment claim may also arise if the employee turns down the boss and as a result, is punished by being demoted or fired.
Although when most people think of sexual harassment they may automatically think that the victim is a woman, it is important to know that both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. The law also protects same-sex victims. In other words, the harasser’s gender does not shield the harasser from legal action. What matters is that an employee was subjected to sexual harassment in his or her workplace.
Victims of sexual harassment in New York City do not need to show severe or pervasive conduct. The New York City Human Rights Law is broad and seeks to stop a wider range of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The first step for sexual harassment victims is to bring the harassment to light. Many employers have sexual harassment policies in place which provide a way for victims to complain about unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace. The law encourages victims to use these complaint procedures by providing anti-retaliation provisions which prohibit employers from retaliating against victims who complain about unlawful harassment. The law also provides a defense for employers who maintain sexual harassment policies but the victim does not use the policy to complain about the sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment charges are among the most serious type of illegal workplace conduct which employment lawyers face. At Famighetti & Weinick PLLC we are sensitive to the needs of sexual harassment victims. To begin with, our Long Island employment lawyers offer free confidential case evaluations at our Melville, New York offices. This means the consultation will not cost anything and the lawyers will not tell anyone about what is said during the meeting, unless given permission to do so.
If an employment attorney believes that the facts constitute sexual harassment, the lawyer will discuss options for combating the sexual harassment. Some of those options may include being able to resolve the situation confidentially, if publicity is a concern. For example, our lawyers may write a confidential letter to the employer asking that the matter be resolved by a confidential means, such as private mediation.
But, it may also be appropriate to resolve a sexual harassment case by filing with either an administrative agency and/or court. The EEOC is the federal agency which investigates sexual harassment claims against employers in New York. The New York State Division of Human Rights is the state's agency which is responsible for reviewing claims of workplace sexual harassment in New York and on Long Island. Deciding the appropriate agency to file a claim with can vary depending on the facts of a particular case. The Long Island sexual harassment attorneys at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC can discuss the victim’s options and help the victim decide what his or her best course of action may be.