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Sexual Harassment

Employment Lawyers Representing Workers in New York City and Long Island

When you go to work at any job, you deserve to feel safe and respected. It is humiliating and degrading to be sexually harassed on the job. Federal, state, and local laws in New York City and Long Island provide remedies to workers who have been sexually harassed in their place of employment. At Gerstman Schwartz, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers have a take-no-prisoners approach when we pursue justice for anybody who has been harassed.

Sexual Harassment Claims

The federal law that prohibits workplace sexual harassment is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It only applies to employers that have a minimum of 15 employees, and it caps damages. The state law prohibiting sexual harassment is the New York State Human Rights Law. It applies to every employer in the state, but it does not permit punitive damages. The New York City Human Rights Law is one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country, and it prohibits gender discrimination, including sexual harassment.

Under the city law, any unwelcome sexual behavior in the workplace is illegal. This includes touching, jokes, gestures, images, memes, pranks, crude remarks, sexual assault, and rape. It can also include remarks about a particular sex. The unwelcome behavior still can be sexual harassment if it comes from someone of the same sex as you, and it can be perpetrated by either men or women. However, one-off or trivial comments or actions are not actionable. Our sexual harassment attorneys can advise New York City and Long Island workers on the viability of a potential claim.

Sexual harassment needs to be either severe or pervasive in order to be considered hostile work environment harassment. In most cases, a hostile work environment claim is based on an accumulation of words or acts that work together to adversely affect the terms and conditions of an employee’s employment. For example, if you get sexually graphic memes from your coworkers on a daily basis, and when you complain to HR, they tell you not to make a big deal about it because your coworkers are valuable to the company, you would have a hostile work environment claim.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a figure of authority in the workplace offers a benefit or continued employment in exchange for sexual favors. For example, if you are a secretary who is due a raise, and your manager says that he will give you a raise for performing a sexual act with him, you would have a claim for quid pro quo sexual harassment.


It is understandable to worry that your complaint to HR will result in employer retaliation. However, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for opposing discriminatory or harassing employment practices in good faith. Our New York City Island sexual harassment attorneys can help an employee integrate a retaliation claim into their case if needed. In some cases, the court may not find sexual harassment but still finds that a claimant is entitled to damages due to retaliation.

Employer Requirements

Employers in New York City are required to have a sexual harassment policy that complies with recent legislation. Among other things, as of Fall 2018, New York City companies were required to display a workplace poster about anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities and to distribute a fact sheet defining sexual harassment as generated by the New York City Human Rights Commission. An employer that willfully does not display the poster can be fined up to $250,000, in addition to being liable for other damages arising out of workplace sexual harassment.

Consult a Skillful Sexual Harassment Attorney

We understand that it can be painful to be sexually harassed, and it can cause serious economic harm, such as termination and the loss of a paycheck or the loss of a promotion. There are remedies that may be available under multiple laws. Determining whether federal, state, or local laws would apply to your situation requires a nuanced analysis by a knowledgeable sexual harassment lawyer in New York City and Long Island. Our attorneys can determine which particular factors in your case would make it advisable to pursue damages under federal, state, or local laws. If you suffer from sexual harassment on the job, you should call the skillful employment litigators at Gerstman Schwartz at (212) 227-7070 or (516) 880-8170. You may also contact us online.

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