All employees have the right to feel safe at work. Unfortunately, some employees suffer from acts of discrimination or harassment while on the job, making them feel unwelcome or threatened at their place of employment. While discrimination of any kind can be devastating, sexual harassment can be especially traumatic for victims. It’s common for workers who suffer acts of sexual harassment to feel ashamed or to even question whether these comments or actions are “serious enough” to warrant reporting. Many victims of sexual harassment do not report these incidents, which often leads to further suffering and continued harassment while on the job. As an employee in New York, it’s essential to recognize that you have the right to report incidents of sexual harassment and to take legal action against those responsible for these unlawful incidents. As you start to gather the courage to report these incidents, you should consider enlisting the support of an experienced and caring employment law attorney who can assess the details of your case and identify the most strategic path forward. This post will explore how to file a sexual harassment lawsuit in New York and what you can expect from the process.

Defining Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

First, it’s helpful to understand what actions constitute workplace sexual harassment in New York. Federal protections against employment-based sexual harassment aim to keep the workplace safe for everyone. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” The definition also encompasses offensive remarks about a person’s sex, such as an employer making offensive comments about women to a female employee. Even frequent teasing, tasteless comments, or isolated incidents can become harassment when these acts create a hostile work environment for an employee. Although many incidents of sexual harassment involve a male superior harassing a female employee, the harasser and the victim can be of any gender or sex. Moreover, both the victim and harasser may be the same sex. Harassers may be the victim’s supervisor or co-worker.

In addition to protections at the federal level, New York State provides fairly progressive anti-harassment laws. All types of workers may file a lawsuit, including domestic workers, contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and consultants, regardless of their citizenship status. If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, contact a skilled and empathetic employment law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for reporting these illegal acts and filing a lawsuit to hold those responsible for your suffering legally and financially accountable.

How to Report Sexual Harassment

Victims of sexual harassment can take several steps to fight back against this illegal behavior. First, the employee should report the incident to their employer (typically a supervisor or Human Resources officer). Neglecting to notify the employer of the harassment may jeopardize your ability to recover compensation, as management can use their lack of knowledge as a defense against your claim. After using the employer’s internal procedures for reporting harassment, the victim can take additional steps to fight back against the hostile work environment. The EEOC outlines the actions that a victim of sexual harassment can take to report such incidents. Once the EEOC receives your complaint, it will notify your employer. In some cases, the EEOC may invite you and your employer to participate in a mediation program in order to resolve the matter and reach a voluntary settlement. Otherwise, the EEOC will ask the employer to provide a written answer to the charge (called the “Respondent’s Position Statement”), which will be made available to you through the EEOC’s online portal. You can then upload your response, and the EEOC will conduct an investigation of the matter. It’s important to understand that you may update your charge at any time during this process, especially if new events of sexual harassment or a related adverse employment action take place after you have reported the original incident. Your attorney can help you amend your complaint and determine how and when to move forward with a formal lawsuit against your employer.

Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may want to consider contacting the New York State Division of Human Rights (NYS DHR). Employees in New York State may report an incident of sexual harassment or discrimination, even if they are unsure whether it is “serious enough” to report. It’s in your best interest to enlist the guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced employment lawyer to assess the details of your case and help you determine the most appropriate course of action.

Supporting You During This Challenging Time

Being subjected to sexual harassment at work can be devastating. In addition to feeling unsafe in the presence of the harasser, you may develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These adverse outcomes can affect your work performance, contribute to attendance issues, or jeopardize your future with the company. At Levy Ratner, we understand how hard it can be to take a stand against sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s natural to worry about the consequences of reporting these incidents, such as potential retaliation from your employer or damage to your professional reputation. Our dedicated and caring employment law attorneys are committed to supporting and guiding you through your legal options to ensure that you take a stand against this unlawful behavior. We will help you take the necessary steps to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions to prevent others from suffering similar abuses. If workplace sexual harassment has caused you to suffer a loss of income or lose out on a promotion, we will seek compensation to account for these measurable monetary damages. No matter what the specifics of your case may be, you can trust that we will answer your questions, address your concerns, and empower you to move forward and into a brighter future.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful. If you have been subjected to employment-based sexual harassment in New York, you have the right to speak up and take action against your employer. The dedicated and skilled legal team at Levy Ratner is committed to giving you the information, support, and representation you need to fight back. Call our office today at (212) 627-8100 to discuss your options with a caring and dedicated employment law attorney.