Sexual Harassment Attorney Will Fight For Your Rights in New York & New Jersey
You have the right not to be harassed at work, whether by your supervisor, a high-level executive, a coworker, a business associate, or a customer.
Recent high-profile sexual harassment and abuse cases against powerful men have shined light on just how prevalent this kind of behavior is in the workplace. However, the public outcry as part of the #MeToo Movement has not made sexual harassment a thing of the past.
At Shnayder Law LLC, we help people take action against harassers and make their employers accountable for failing to keep their workplaces free of verbal or physical abuse. New York and New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer Erica Shnayder has a strong track record of helping people enforce their rights on the job by recovering more than $22 million in court verdicts and settlements for her clients.
What is Sexual Harassment?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a federal agency that polices workplace discrimination and harassment. The EEOC describes sexual harassment as follows:
“Harassment can include ‘sexual harassment’ or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.”
The victim and the harasser may be of the same or opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim’s direct supervisor, a supervisor elsewhere in the organization, a co-worker, a client, or a customer.
Sexual Harassment Laws in New York and New Jersey
Sexual harassment in the workplace is not just unprofessional, unsettling, and abusive; it is also against the law. Federal, state, and even local laws ban a wide range of harassing conduct on the job. In some cases, harassment may also cross the line into criminal conduct.
Federal and state laws treat sexual harassment on the job as a form of unlawful sex discrimination. The primary laws protecting workers in New York and New Jersey include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
- The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL)
- The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL)
- The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD)
Under certain circumstances, both individual harassers and employers may be legally liable for unlawful harassment.
If the harasser is a supervisor or manager, they are generally considered an agent acting on behalf of the employer. In addition, employers are legally responsible for preventing sexual harassment on the job and stopping harassment.
The laws come with certain procedural requirements; steps employees should take to make a claim properly. They also come with time limits, imposing deadlines under which an employee must file a claim or risk losing the right to sue.
Types of Sexual Harassment
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is generally divided into two categories:
- quid pro quo
- hostile work environment
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid pro quo is a Latin term meaning “something for something.” Quid pro quo sexual harassment refers to situations in which a harasser makes an employment decision—a job, promotion, pay raise, assignment opportunity, or transfer—contingent on an employee submitting to sexual advances or other sexual conduct.
Sometimes this kind of harassment is obvious, like when a boss explicitly offers his or her employee a promotion in exchange for sex or fires, demotes, or otherwise punishes an employee after he or she rejects sexual advances.
Often, however, the quid pro quo nature of the harassment is implied or more nuanced. Harassers may take advantage of a power imbalance to force unwanted sexual advances on a subordinate employee.
Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment
Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome verbal and physical conduct on the job becomes so unbearable that it interferes with a person’s ability to do his or her job or rises to the level of creating a toxic, offensive, intimidating, or otherwise hostile environment.
The kind of conduct deemed to create a hostile work environment varies based on the circumstances.
At Shnayder Law LLC, we commonly see hostile work environment cases involving the following behavior:
- Sexual advances and requests for sexual favors
- Sexual comments
- Sexual intimidation
- Display of sexist or sexual materials in the workplace
- Unlawful touching
- Sexual “jokes” and innuendos
A sexual harassment attorney at our firm can help you understand whether certain conduct at your workplace rises to the level of a hostile work environment and weigh your options for legal action.
Sexual Harassment and Retaliation
Federal and state laws also prohibit retaliation against sexual harassment victims and people who help them protect their rights.
A company or other organization cannot fire or refuse to hire an employee for reporting sexual harassment or filing a harassment lawsuit, even where the employee did not specifically follow the organization’s policy for reporting harassment. The employer is also prohibited from taking other retaliatory actions against the employee, such as demotions, pay cuts, transfers, reassignments, or other adverse employment actions designed to punish a person from enforcing their rights.
Accusing a coworker of harassment or filing a claim against your employer for failing to prevent the behavior can feel overwhelming. That is especially true when the harasser is a direct supervisor, or a victim has been threatened with retaliation. The anti-retaliation protections are in place to give employees the confidence to speak up, knowing it will not cost them their jobs.
In many of these cases, the question is whether the company took the retaliatory action in response to the employee’s protected activity or for unrelated reasons. Employers will often argue a demotion or decision to pass a person over for a pay raise was motivated by performance or other reasons—one example of why it is vital to have a seasoned sexual harassment lawyer in your corner.
Speak with a Sexual Harassment Lawyer Today
If you have been subjected to sexual harassment on the job, it is important to seek an experienced employment attorney’s advice. New Jersey and New York sexual harassment lawyer Erica Shnayder can help you understand your rights and take action against those responsible.