Consulting a New York sexual harassment attorney if you are being harassed at work can help you take the proper legal steps to deal with sexual harassment. Not all cases escalate to the level of litigation because employers often take responsibility to correct abusive behavior or are amenable to resolving disputes through mediation or settlements. Under state and federal jurisdictions, the courts look to see that victims properly reported the situation to the employer and state or federal authorities in a timely manner, seeking other measures to resolve the situation before suing.
Victims of sexual harassment can report sexual harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), which puts the case under federal authority, or they can report it to the New York Division of Human Rights , which is the state’s equivalent of the EEOC. In addition to New York State Human Rights Law, New York City has its own human rights law, referred to as New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).
The effect of case law on sexual harassment in New York
A recent 2011 discrimination case addressing racial discrimination set a new standard that also applies to New York sexual harassment cases. In the 2011 case ruling for Nelson v. HSBC Bank USA, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department reviewed the case and found that for a hostile work environment to exist, actions could fall between previously set standards. Previously set standards described discriminatory behavior as severe and pervasive or petty slights and trivial inconveniences. Employers’ attorneys used petty slights and trivial inconveniences as an affirmative defense to show that actions were not severe enough to consider them harassment. However, the appellate court in this case found that while actions may not rise to the level of severe and pervasive, they may be more than petty slights and trivial inconveniences. In such cases, they warrant consideration as discrimination that causes a hostile work environment.
Get answers from a professional
If you are struggling with sexual harassment, an experienced New York discrimination attorney can evaluate your situation in relation to New York harassment laws, explain your options and advise the best course of action. Many discrimination lawyers offer free initial consultations to prospective clients to examine the merits of their case.