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Sexual Assault in the Workplace

New York Attorneys Skilled in Harassment Claims

While many acts may be construed as inappropriate for the workplace, acts of sexual assault are so egregious that there is no dispute that they constitute sexual harassment. Sexual assault can cause lasting emotional and physical trauma. When it happens at work, it may also form the basis of a claim for damages against an employer. If you experienced sexual assault in the workplace, it is crucial to retain an assertive attorney who will fight to help you pursue the compensation that you deserve. The capable New York sexual harassment attorneys at Gerstman Schwartz are mindful of the devastation that a workplace sexual assault can cause. We will work tirelessly to help you seek a just result.

Claims Arising out of Sexual Assault in the Workplace

Under New York law, a wide range of behavior may constitute sexual assault, but generally it refers to any sexual act that is committed without the recipient’s consent. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for women to be sexually assaulted at work, but men can be victims of sexual assault as well. Sexual assault in the workplace violates numerous anti-discrimination laws. Pursuant to 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), sex-based discrimination, which includes sexual harassment, is unlawful. The statutory provision that a person uses in pursuing a sexual harassment claim will depend on numerous factors, including how many employees the employer has and the circumstances surrounding the harassment.

Sexual harassment is typically categorized as either hostile work environment or quid pro quo. Usually, a sexual assault that occurs at work will result in a hostile work environment claim. The evidence that a plaintiff must produce to prove that sexual harassment created a hostile work environment depends on which law the harasser allegedly violated. Under the NYCHRL, an employee only needs to prove that harassment resulted in treatment that was less favorable than the treatment of other employees to demonstrate a hostile work environment. The burden of proof is slightly greater under the NYSHRL, which requires an employee to show that the harassing conduct subjected him or her to inferior privileges, terms, or conditions of employment. Title VII imposes the highest burden of proof, requiring an employee to show that the harassment was so pervasive and severe that it modified the conditions of employment, resulting in an adverse working environment. However, a single act like sexual assault may be considered adequately severe to meet the Title VII standard.

In some instances, a sexual assault will form the basis of a quid pro quo claim. Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when the conditions of employment are tied to an employee’s willingness to submit to unwelcome sexual advances. For example, an employer may sexually assault an employee while requesting sexual favors in exchange for a promotion.

Typically, sexual harassment claims assert that the offending acts were committed by an employer, supervisor, or other individual with the ability to control the conditions or terms of the plaintiff’s employment. In some instances, though, an employer may be held accountable for acts committed by one non-supervisory employee against another. Generally, to impose liability on an employer for employee-to-employee harassment, it must be established that the employer either knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to stop it, or did not provide means for employees to report harassment.

Consult an Experienced New York Attorney

Sexual assault in the workplace can affect every aspect of a person’s life. If you were sexually assaulted at work, you could be owed significant damages, and you should consult a lawyer as soon as possible. At Gerstman Schwartz, our experienced New York attorneys have the knowledge and resources needed to obtain favorable results. We regularly represent people in sexual harassment lawsuits in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. You can reach us through our online form or at our New York City office at (212) 227-7070 or our Garden City office at (516) 880-8170 to schedule a meeting.

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