An attorney working at Exusia, a New York City consulting firm, is suing the company’s CEO for sexual harassment. In what gothamist.com calls a “truly spectacular complaint,” Amy Green alleges that the CEO and company co-founder, made sexual advances toward her, subjected her to lewd and inappropriate behavior, and subsequently tried to derail her career with the firm. The New York Post reports that Green “was sidelined at the company after complaining about the CEO’s behavior.”
Her complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, contains allegations of discrimination and retaliation in violation of New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). Green is seeking an undisclosed amount of punitive damages in the lawsuit against the CEO himself and the business.
NYSHRL and NYCHRL govern employment discrimination in New York and prohibit discrimination based on sex or gender. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is unlawful when sex is used as the basis for employment decisions or as a requirement to keep your job. It is also unlawful when the sexual harassment is so pervasive that it creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment that interferes with your job. Sexual harassment can involve behaviors such as:
The laws also prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee who opposes discrimination, helps with an investigation or files a complaint. The laws provide protection for reporting offensive conduct to your Human Resources (HR) Department, filing a formal charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the New York State Division of Human Rights and/or the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Retaliation can include any adverse employment action such as firing, refusing to promote or transferring an employee. Giving someone a poor performance review can also be an act of retaliation.
Ms. Green lists numerous situations where the CEO, who is married to and has children with Exusia’s co-founder, exposed her to ongoing, detailed commentary about her body, his love of strip clubs, sexual exploits with “hot” women and naked photos. She cites specific accounts of being given the key to his hotel room and being badgered into accompanying him to strip clubs. He reminded her “You can’t sue me for sexual harassment” and “I am responsible for your review.” Green perceived both of these statements as veiled threats to keep quiet about his behavior.
Green also alleges that the CEO used company money to fund his exploits, an issue she raised with him. When she called a charge into question, Green claims he immediately blocked her access to her email so he could delete the copy of the credit card statement from her account.
In January 2017, the CEO conducted Green’s review and told her she was “performing above her level.” However, Green learned that he “told others she was not doing her job.” Despite his promises, the CEO did nothing to help her obtain a promotion or increase in compensation. It is the Plaintiff’s position that the CEO denied her promotion and raise because “she was not receptive to his advances and crude stories about his relations with other women.”
The complaint also states that shortly after receiving Green’s formal letter asserting sexual harassment claims, the company blocked her email access and informed her she was not expected to perform any work for a few days. The company restricted many of her job duties and the CEO began reassigning some of her tasks to other employees.
Green alleges that the Defendant created a hostile working environment with his pervasive and severely inappropriate conduct and commentary toward women. Because of this and the retaliation, Green has suffered and “continues to suffer, severe mental anguish and emotional distress, including, but not limited to, depression, humiliation, embarrassment, stress, and anxiety, loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as emotional pain and suffering.”
Time will tell how a judge or jury views the allegations in this case and whether Ms. Green can prove that she is a victim of unlawful sex harassment and retaliation. The Defendants have not formally responded to the allegations. The New York Post and gothamist both claim to have tried to secure a comment from the accused but were unsuccessful.
Leeds Brown Law, P.C., representing clients in New York City and the surrounding counties, has spent decades protecting the rights of workers. Our employment discrimination lawyers have the understanding and skills needed to obtain monetary awards for sexual harassment and retaliation. Contact us for a free evaluation of your employment discrimination claim. 1-800-585-4658.