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Physical Sexual Harassment

New York Attorneys Assisting Employees in Workplace Disputes

Most people understand that it is not appropriate to touch people with whom they work without their consent. Some individuals, however, ignore the rules of society and their workplaces and engage in inappropriate touching that constitutes sexual harassment. Victims of physical sexual harassment have the right to take legal action, and anyone subjected to illicit acts at work should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned New York sexual harassment lawyers at Gerstman Schwartz take pride in helping employees protect their rights, and we will advocate zealously on your behalf.

Examples of Physical Sexual Harassment

A wide range of conduct may be considered physical sexual harassment. For example, illegal acts like sexual assault and rape constitute harassment, and hugging, groping, caressing, or kissing a person without their consent most likely does as well. More subtle actions like brushing up or rubbing against a person, physically blocking or intimidating them, and obscene gestures may also be considered harassment. Sexual harassment is not confined to any gender or sexuality, and both men and women can be subjected to inappropriate acts at work by people of their own sex or the opposite sex. While often sexual harassment is motivated by sexual desire or intent, it does not need to be, and any acts based on a person’s gender may be considered harassment.

Pursuing Damages for Physical Sexual Harassment

There are federal and state statutes barring sexual harassment in the workplace, and if an employer violates these laws, they can be held accountable. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which applies to employers with 15 or more employees, bars sex discrimination, which includes sexual harassment. The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) both prohibit sex discrimination as well, and employers of all sizes can be held liable for sexual harassment. The NYSHRL also expressly states that harassment based on gender is an unlawful discriminatory act.

Essentially, there are two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a person in a position of power at a workplace, like an owner or supervisor, pressures a person to engage in sexual activity to obtain or keep a position or receive a promotion. It is also considered quid pro quo harassment if an employer fires someone or otherwise adversely affects a person’s employment due to their refusal to engage in sexual activity. For example, if a supervisor attempts to kiss an employee and warns that a rejection will result in termination, it may be grounds for a quid pro quo sexual harassment claim.

When physical sexual harassment affects how a person is treated at work, it may create a hostile work environment. A plaintiff’s burden of proof will vary depending on which statutory provision he or she uses in asserting a hostile work environment claim. For example, under Title VII, the conduct must be so pervasive and severe that it changes the condition of the person’s workplace and creates an abusive environment. Under the NYSHRL, though, an employee merely needs to prove that the harassment led to inferior conditions, terms, or privileges of employment, while under the NYCHRL, the plaintiff must show that he or she was treated less favorably because of the harassment.

Meet With a Trusted Sexual Harassment Lawyer in New York

Physical sexual harassment can cause fear and intimidation, and employers that tolerate such acts should be held accountable. If you are a victim of physical sexual harassment in the workplace, you have the right to pursue damages, and you should meet with a lawyer to discuss your potential claims. At Gerstman Schwartz, our New York attorneys are skilled at holding employers accountable for their violations of anti-discrimination laws. We frequently represent plaintiffs in sexual harassment lawsuits in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. You can set up a meeting through our online form or by calling (212) 227-7070 for our New York City office or calling (516) 880-8170 for our Garden City office.

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