How Do I Spot Sexual Harassment In My Workplace?
With recent news surrounding another public official accused of sexual harassment, more and more discussion is going on in terms of what exactly constitutes sexual harassment, both in and out of the workplace. Very few cases are as cut and dried as what one might see in pop culture, and with pervasive myths still persisting about what is and is not harassment, it can be hard to determine whether you have a case or not. If you are in this spot, consulting an attorney is always a good idea – the worst they can say is no.
Harassment Cases Persist
Some persist in the belief that sexual harassment is becoming a thing of the past – but over the last few years, the number of sexual harassment charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has remained roughly constant, with a dip or rise of a few hundred from year to year. 2020 is an outlier, seeing a significant drop in the number of cases – roughly 13 percent lower than in 2019 – because fewer people were in the workplace together, but one can see that some trends were the same, notably the percentage of charges filed by men, as well as the relative number of resolutions.
Generally, sexual harassment claims are grouped with those alleging sex or gender discrimination, because the argument can be made that such harassment would not be experienced in the same way by someone of a different gender. Federal, New York State, and New York City law all prohibit discrimination based on sex, and if you have been harassed in a sexual way, you will usually have your choice of jurisdictions in which to file a complaint.
Harassment is defined in roughly similar ways under all three jurisdictions where one could file a charge. There are two types of sexual harassment; one is referred to as hostile work environment harassment, where the conduct is serious enough to interfere with your work performance, or is intended to specifically create a hostile work environment. New York state law goes further than federal antidiscrimination law in this respect – under federal law one must show that the conduct is “severe or pervasive” – in New York, the standard is lower, allowing more who have experienced harassment the chance to follow suit.
The other type of harassment is less common, but still occurs; so-called “quid pro quo” harassment is the old scenario where one worker asks another for sexual favors in exchange for advancement or other benefits (or, conversely, the refusal of a worker to do so is used as an excuse to fire or demote them). It is important to remember that this type of harassment can happen between any two people – one does not have to be of a different gender, or be a superior. If a ‘quid pro quo’ happened or you have been pressured into one, you may have a harassment case to file.
Contact A New York Employment Discrimination Attorney
No one should have to experience any type of harassment in the workplace, but sexual harassment has the potential to feel truly violating. If you have been subjected to this behavior, calling a New York City employment discrimination attorney from Mansell Law, LLC may be the first step toward seeking closure on a traumatic situation. Contact our office at 646-921-8900 for a free consultation.