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Verbal Sexual Harassment

New York Attorneys Representing Employees in Litigation

People at work may speak to one another about a variety of topics not related to their jobs. While many of these conversations are workplace-appropriate, it is unfortunately not uncommon for a person to make comments of a sexual nature to a coworker or employee. Sexually explicit statements often constitute sexual harassment, and people subjected to inappropriate remarks at work should seek legal counsel regarding their right to seek compensation from their employer. If you were a victim of verbal sexual harassment, the knowledgeable New York sexual harassment lawyers at Gerstman Schwartz can advise you on the claims that you may be able to pursue and assist you in pursuing a favorable outcome.

Examples of Verbal Sexual Harassment

When people think of sexual harassment, they often think of sexually aggressive behavior and touching, but comments can constitute sexual harassment as well. For example, if an employer or supervisor requests that an employee offer sexual favors in exchange for a work benefit or promotion, or a coworker repeatedly pressures a person for a date, it likely would be considered sexual harassment. Sexual remarks regarding a person’s body, lewd noises, sexually explicit stories, and risqué jokes may also be deemed sexual harassment. Negative comments pertaining to a person’s sex are often considered sexual harassment as well, even if they do not involve sexual desire. It is important to note that sexual harassment is not limited to statements made by men to or against women. Both men and women may be both victims and perpetrators of sexual harassment.

Elements of a Lawsuit Arising Out of Verbal Sexual Harassment

In New York, there are multiple laws that protect employees from verbal sexual harassment, and in many instances, a victim of sexual harassment may be able to pursue claims under multiple laws. Specifically, verbal sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which applies to employers with 15 or more employees. It is also prohibited under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL).

The evidence needed to prove an employer’s liability depends on which law applies and the nature of the claim asserted. Verbal sexual harassment may be quid pro quo harassment, which is when an employer makes a decision regarding an individual’s employment based on the person’s willingness to engage in sexual activity. For example, if a supervisor asks a person for sexual favors, and the person declines and is fired, it may constitute quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs under federal law when sexual comments directed at an employee are so severe or pervasive that they create an abusive environment that ultimately affects the employee’s terms of employment or ability to complete job duties. The elements of a hostile work environment sexual harassment claim are different under state and local laws, however, which provide more lenient standards.

When sexual harassment is purely verbal, it can be difficult for an employee to prove that it occurred. Evidence of verbal sexual harassment may include eyewitness statements or testimony from other employees who were also subjected to offensive sexual comments by the defendant. Any documentation of complaints made directly to the harasser or to a supervisor or human resources employee may be useful in building a lawsuit.

Speak to a Dedicated Sexual Harassment Attorney in New York

Sexual harassment does not always involve physical contact; it can be limited to inappropriate sexual comments or suggestions. Verbal sexual harassment constitutes an actionable violation of anti-discrimination laws, and anyone subject to harassment at work should speak to a lawyer promptly. At Gerstman Schwartz, our sexual harassment lawyers are dedicated to helping people harmed by unlawful acts in the workplace seek redress for their losses. We represent employees in sexual harassment lawsuits in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. You can contact 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 set up a meeting.

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