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Are You Suffering Sexual Harassment at Work in New York City?

How to Stop the Harassment and Protect Your Legal Rights

Sexual Harassment/Sex Discrimination:

The phrase “sexual harassment” has historically been used to describe unwelcome sexual conduct, such as sexual advances or any other verbal, physical or other type of conduct of a sexual nature. The phrase “sexual discrimination” (or “sex discrimination”) is more general.  It describes the legal prohibition against any policy, conduct, or behavior that results in employees being treated differently based on their gender. 

In a recent decision, a New York appellate court in Manhattan insightfully noted that the phrase “sexual harassment” describes just one of the many different types of conduct and unequal treatment that are under the broader umbrella of gender-based discrimination. The court emphasized that employees with sexual harassment claims are not held to a higher standard of proof than employees asserting other types of discrimination claims. Unlike other jurisdictions in the United States, victims of gender discrimination in New York City receive the liberal protections of the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), which states that an employee need only show that they were treated differently than other employees because of their gender.  There is no obligation to show that conduct was “pervasive” or “severe”. 

Stopping Sex Discrimination and Protecting Your Legal Rights:

In order to stop sexual harassment and protect your right to seek legal recourse against your employer, you should report your coworker’s conduct to your employer, who is legally obliged to stop the behavior. If your employer has guidelines for reporting sexual harassment, it is important to follow them to protect your rights.  You should to take every reasonable step to ensure that there are written and electronic records showing that you promptly brought your concerns to your employer’s attention.  We encourage you to preserve these records.  For example, complaining about the offensive conduct via email (as opposed to only making a verbal complaint) will help ensure that there is electronic (i.e., email) proof that you asked that your employer intervene to stop the offensive conduct.

If your employer does not take effective measures to stop the sexual harassment, you should speak with an employment discrimination attorney, who will discuss the multiple options that are available to you for seeking redress.  These options include

  • File a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC);
  • File a charge with the New York City Human Rights Commission;
  • File a charge with the New York State Division of Human Rights; or
  • Attempting to negotiate a resolution before filing a formal claim or charge of discrimination with a skilled employment lawyer, such as the attorneys at Rapaport Law Firm, PLLC.

It is important that you carefully weigh the potential benefits of each option.  For example, it may be beneficial to initially file a claim with the EEOC because you are not permitted to sue your employer in federal court for sexual harassment or gender discrimination until the EEOC issues a document known as a “right to sue letter.”  In addition, you should speak with employment lawyers who are fully familiar with NYC’s unique Human Rights Law, which provides powerful anti-discrimination rights to employees who work in New York City. It is more favorable than many other anti-discrimination statutes.  Unlike other local statutes, New York City's anti-discrimination law does not require an employee to show that the harassment inflicted on them was "severe" or "pervasive."

At Rapaport Law Firm, employment attorneys Marc Rapaport and Meredith Miller have more than forty years of combined experienced representing victims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in New York state and federal courts.  We can be reached at (212) 382-1600 to schedule a meeting to discuss your potential claims. We are located at One Penn Plaza, directly above Penn Station in Manhattan.  We have successfully pursued discrimination claims against the nation’s largest and most powerful corporations. 

Marc Rapaport and Meredith Miller take pride in providing extraordinarily caring, creative and vigorous legal guidance and representation for employees.  In July 2019, Ms. Miller received the prestigious honor of being elected President of the Network of Bar Leaders.  For three consecutive years, Mr. Rapaport was honored, by peer vote, of being selected for the New York Metro Super Lawyers List, a rating service by Thomson Reuters of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievem