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Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

Attorneys Dedicated to Representing New York Employees

People often think of sexual harassment as a man requesting sexual favors from a woman at work. While many sexual harassment claims arise out of that scenario, both men and women can be victims of harassment, and in many instances, they are harassed by people of the same sex. People who experience same-sex sexual harassment may be able to seek compensation and should seek legal counsel regarding their possible claims. If you were sexually harassed at work by a person of the same sex, the knowledgeable New York sexual harassment lawyers at Gerstman Schwartz can advise you about your rights and help you seek a just outcome.

Examples of Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

When a supervisor, coworker, or sometimes a third party subjects an employee to unwanted conduct based on the employee’s sex, it is considered sexual harassment, regardless of either party’s sex. For example, if a person makes unwanted sexual advances, requests sexual favors, or shares sexually explicit emails, it may constitute sexual harassment. Sexual harassment does not need to be desire-driven in nature. Instead, it merely must be harassment that is based on the victim’s sex. In other words, if a female supervisor makes sexist comments toward a female employee, it may be considered sexual harassment. Similarly, it is likely sexual harassment if a male employer degrades a male employee for not being masculine.

Claims Arising Out of Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

All sexual harassment is unlawful under state and federal anti-discrimination laws. In other words, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), and the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) state that it is an unlawful discriminatory practice to discriminate against a person in terms of employment because of the person’s sex. The courts have deemed sexual harassment a form of discrimination, so it is barred under Title VII, the NYSHRL, and the NYCHRL. Notably, none of the statutes contains provisions regarding the sex of either the harasser or the victim or states that sexual harassment must arise out of sexual desire. As a result, New York state and federal courts have routinely held that employees can pursue claims for same-sex sexual harassment.

Usually, same-sex sexual harassment will result in a hostile work environment claim. Under the NYCHRL, a person asserting that sexual harassment created a hostile work environment must prove that he or she was treated less well than other employees because of the harassment. For an employee to recover damages under the NYSHRL, he or she must prove that the harassment resulted in substandard terms, privileges, or conditions of employment. The conduct in question must surpass what a reasonable person would consider a trivial inconvenience or petty slight. Establishing a hostile work environment under Title VII can be more difficult, since it requires an employee to prove that the harassment was so harsh and unyielding that it created an abusive atmosphere, and the employee was expected to withstand the abuse as a condition of employment.

Same-sex sexual harassment may also form the basis for a quid pro quo claim. Quid pro quo means this for that, and quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when an employee’s job, promotion, or other benefit hinges on complying with a supervisor or employer’s request for sexual favors. In other words, if an employer suggests to a potential employee that he or she should have sex with the employer to get hired, it is likely quid pro quo harassment.

Meet With a Trusted New York Attorney

Sexual harassment is not limited to a particular sex, and many people are victims of same-sex sexual harassment. If you were sexually harassed at work, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to assess your options. At Gerstman Schwartz, our New York attorneys are dedicated to helping employees fight to protect their interests. We frequently represent victims of sexual harassment in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. We can be contacted to schedule a meeting via 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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