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New York Court Explains Notice Requirements in Sexual Harassment Claims

February 14, 2021

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against people based on their gender or engaging in sexual harassment, and employers that fail to abide by anti-discrimination laws and violate their employee’s rights may be deemed liable for any damages they cause. In some instances, employees must provide prompt notice of sexual harassment claims to their employers, and if they fail to do so, their claims may be dismissed. This was shown in a recent New York opinion in which the court explained the plaintiff’s discrimination claims arising out of violations of state law due to the plaintiff’s failure to provide proper notice to the defendant were untimely. If you were sexually harassed at work, you may be owed damages, and it is in your best interest to consult a New York sexual harassment attorney as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

Reportedly, the plaintiff worked as a police officer for the defendant town. Throughout the course of her eight-year employment, she was subjected to harassment and discrimination based on her gender and subjected to retaliation for reporting such unlawful acts. The ongoing treatment caused her to suffer physical, emotional, and psychological distress. Thus, she filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging claims of gender-based discrimination and retaliation in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as other tort claims. The defendant removed the case to federal court, and the plaintiff filed a motion to remand. After reviewing the motion, the court ultimately denied it as to the plaintiff’s state law discrimination claims.

Timely Notice of Discrimination Claims

The court noted that both parties agreed that the discrimination claims arising out of state and federal law violations should be litigated together. The plaintiff argued that the court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, though, because the issue of whether she was required to serve a notice of claim prior to asserting state law discrimination claims was a novel issue that should be determined by a state court.

The court disagreed, explaining that under New York Town Law 67, the plaintiff was required to serve the defendant with a notice of claim, as it was a town as defined by the statute. The state courts strictly construe the notice requirement, and a failure to provide proper notice will result in a dismissal of claims. In other words, if a plaintiff sets forth state law employment discrimination claims against a municipality that falls under New York Town Law 67, the plaintiff must comply with the notice requirement; otherwise, the state law claims will be dismissed.

In the subject case, the plaintiff did not comply with the notice requirements, and her state law claims would be dismissed in either the federal or state court. Thus, the court denied her motion to remand as to the state discrimination claims.

Meet With an Experienced Employment Attorney in New York

If you were subject to sexual harassment at work, you could be owed damages from your employer, and it is in your best interest to meet with a lawyer. The experienced employment attorneys of Gerstman Schwartz LLP are skilled at helping victims of sexual harassment seek justice for their damages, and if you engage our services, we will diligently pursue any compensation recoverable. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at our Manhattan office at (212) 227-7070 or at our Garden City office at (516) 880-8170 to schedule a meeting.

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