Frequently Asked Questions about Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment – Frequently Asked Questions

Lawyers in New York who focus their practice on sexual harassment in the workplace, like the ones at Leeds Brown Law, P.C., see more and more cases each year. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the agency that oversees the enforcement of federal job discrimination laws, in 2015 received over 25,000 charges of sex discrimination/sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits sexual harassment as it is considered a form of discrimination based on sex, but it remains a persistent problem in the workplace.

What is sexual harassment? Sex harassment occurs when someone makes unwanted or unwelcome sexual advances or requests favors that are sexual in nature. There also may be verbal or physical harassment that is sexual in its nature. There are essentially two types of sexual harassment that can give rise to a claim; “quid pro quo” sex harassment occurs when a person in power such as a supervisor or manager ties the performance of a sexual act to the threat or promise of something employment related. For instance, your boss tells you she will fire you if you do not have sex with her.

The other type is called “hostile work environment” sexual harassment. A hostile work environment exists when someone in your workplace makes unwanted sexual comments, jokes or innuendo or behaves in such a way as to make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. The behavior must be so pervasive that it creates an environment that is hostile.

At Leeds Brown, our experienced employment law attorneys have spent decades assisting clients with workplace sexual harassment claims. Sex harassment is unlawful sex discrimination, and if you are a victim, you should have strong representation to ensure that you recover monetary compensation or another outcome you desire. We are passionate about holding employers accountable for the injuries caused by sexual harassment in the workplace and it shows in the positive results we secure for our clients.

Protect your right to work in a safe environment and receive equal treatment. Call Leeds Brown, representing clients in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan areas, for a free case evaluation.

Workplace Sexual Harassment-FAQs

Many people ask questions about whether or not certain conduct or a particular situation is unlawful sex harassment. It is important to remember that every case is unique and there are various factors and evidentiary tests that apply to each sexual harassment claim. Some questions most frequently asked can be found below.

Can a woman sexually harass a man?

Yes. While some people believe that sex harassment only happens when a man harasses a woman, sexual harassment can occur when a woman or man harasses another individual.

Does unlawful sex harassment have to involve members of the opposite sex?

No. Sexual harassment can occur between individuals of the opposite or the same sex. Same-gender sexual harassment can, and does, happen in all types of workplaces.

Is in unlawful when someone asks a co-worker for a date?

Not always. However, if the individual says no and the co-worker continues to ask in a persistent or threatening manner, the conduct may rise to the level of unlawful sexual harassment.

Can someone sexually harass me if I used to be in a relationship with them?

Yes. Having a prior sexual relationship with someone does not automatically preclude you from being a victim of unlawful sexual harassment or from filing a claim to recover damages.

What if someone makes comments about my appearance or what I’m wearing?

If someone says you look beautiful or they like your dress, it may not be considered sexual harassment. However, if inappropriate remarks follow seemingly innocent comments, it may. For instance, the comment, “I like your pants” may be an appropriate thing to say to a co-worker. Adding “because they accentuate the sensual curve of your hips” may result in sexual harassment. Asking the entire office to comment on how the colleague looks in the pants may also contribute to a hostile environment for the victim.

Is telling dirty jokes at work unlawful sexual harassment?

Sometimes telling inappropriate jokes can make people uncomfortable. If even a mildly sexual joke makes someone uneasy at work, it may lay the foundation for a sex harassment claim. Generally speaking, telling jokes or stories that are sexual in nature is inappropriate workplace behavior and can contribute to the creation of a hostile work environment.

What about computer pornography? Is downloading it sexual harassment?

If a co-worker or supervisor is showing you the offensive material, referencing it or using it to make you uncomfortable, it may contribute to the creation of a hostile work environment. If the offensive material is being used to harass someone else, witnessing the behavior can make your job environment hostile and lead to a claim. You do not necessarily have to be the direct recipient or target of the sexual harassment to be a victim.

Is there recourse if someone other than a co-worker or supervisor unlawfully harasses an employee in a sexual manner?

Your employer is responsible for keeping your work environment free from sex harassment. This responsibility extends to making sure that clients, vendors, and customers behave appropriately toward employees. When an employer learns that a third-party sexually harassed an employee, the employer is obligated to handle the situation properly. If not, the employer may be held liable for the unlawful conduct.

What is retaliation?

An employee may be reluctant to come forward to report or complain about sexual harassment in the workplace. Why? Fear of retaliation. Retaliation is when an employer punishes an employee for trying to put a stop to sex harassment whether by filing an internal report or a formal charge with the EEOC. If an employer fires, demotes, reassigns or threatens any negative employment consequence because an employee tries to protect his or her rights under Title VII, it may be unlawful retaliation.

Lawyers Help Employees Recover Monetary Damages for Workplace Sexual Harassment

If you have experienced unlawful sexual harassment at work, you may have recourse. Contact New York’s leading employment discrimination attorneys at Leeds Brown to find out how to proceed to protect your interests. You may be able to file a claim with the EEOC or corresponding New York state agency for sex harassment as well as retaliation. You may be entitled to recover monetary damages in addition to back pay and benefits you lost because of the unlawful discrimination. We won’t know until we hear the facts of your particular case.

Contact Us

Having strong advocates on your side can go a long way toward getting the best recovery you deserve in a sexual harassment case. The lawyers at Leeds Brown have significant experience filing claims for victims of unlawful sex harassment and workplace retaliation. We take pride in providing high-quality services and vigorous representation to clients in New York City and the surrounding metro area including Long Island.

Someone is in our office to take your call 24/7. There are time limits to file claims so call 1-800-585-4658 today.