As the name suggests, this is a kind of gender-based discrimination that takes place at work. Statistically speaking, it is women that bear the brunt of sexual harassment at work. However, sexism cuts across all genders. And it does not matter your sexual orientation either, or your ranking in the corporate ladder; virtually everyone can be a victim of sexual harassment. Contrary to popular belief, sexual discrimination may not always be perpetrated by a higher-ranking official and as we have mentioned, women are not always the victims. Your co-workers, independent contractors and even subordinates could be the perpetrators. And this kind of discrimination takes different shapes and forms.
Surprisingly, the vice has continued to flourish in New York City despite the fact that there is adequate legislation prohibiting it. Evidently, the question is not if it will happen to you, but rather what your recourse is when it happens. As a victim of sexual harassment, your first port of call should be a licensed New York discrimination attorney. Read on to learn more on how you can rise above the degrading consequences of sexism at work.
Categories of Illegal Sexual Harassment
It is important to remember that not all sexual harassment is actionable. This is to mean, not all cases meet the minimum threshold to sustain a lawsuit.
The following are the two major actionable forms of sexual harassment that can happen to you at work.
- Quid pro-quo sexual harassment – This kind of sexual harassment happens when as an employee, you are compelled to grant sexual advances from your employer. Failure to do that could see you suffer employment-related benefits that you otherwise so rightfully deserve.
For instance, your employer could offer you a job promotion or pay raise subject to your granting their sexual advances. Evidently, they agree with the fact that you deserve these benefits, but are using their influence unduly to take advantage of you.
The consequences of rejecting such advances are usually grim; from demotion to reduction in your pay or even termination. When this happens, you should contact your NYC-based sexual-harassment attorney immediately.
- Hostile work-environment sexual harassment – This kind of actionable sexual harassment takes place at a general as opposed to individual level. Here, the entire workplace is usually permeated with actions and comments that are generally sexually discriminative, so much that your overall productivity is compromised.
Hostile work-environment sexual harassment typically occurs in workplaces that do not adhere to the basic ethical ideals. It almost appears as though sexual discrimination forms part of the company’s service charter.
Types Of Sexual At Work
As we already mentioned, there are different forms of sexual discrimination at places of work. The following is a rundown of some of the most common forms.
- Explicitly making sexual advances.
- Hugging, cuddling, kissing, touching or making other forms of physical contact that may be considered inappropriate.
- Lewd jokes, comments or innuendo.
- Making of obscene gestures.
- Making of derogatory remarks that are gender-specific in nature.
- Circulation of sexually-explicit emails to co-workers, or displaying of such material on the company’s social media platforms.
What Is The Best Recourse For Victims?
Sexual harassment is a criminal offense so as a victim, the first thing you should do when it happens is to start collecting and preserving evidence. When collecting evidence, it is imperative that you begin by preserving any remarks or comments that you found to be sexually harassing. Such statements are easier to preserve if they came in written form. However, do not fret even if these remarks were made orally as you can still preserve the evidence. First, be sure to remember the remark or statement word-for-word or write it down if you suspect you could forget. However, the most practical approach is to record such harassment in some form of audio or video content. This works best when you can accurately anticipate your sexual harasser.
For sexually explicit content that appears in displays or images, you are better off photographing them. These could range from pictures or drawings within the office precincts, to email and social media content that you found to be sexually inappropriate.
Last and most importantly, do a background check on the complaint procedure of your employer and when making your complaints, do it pursuant to that particular procedure. This is important as it enables you to exhaust the immediate remediation channels before contacting your lawyer. One great way to lend some credence to your complaints is to make them in formal writing. Even if you must complain verbally, ensure there is some form of written complaint accompanying your verbal accusations. And needless to mention, all complaints must be supported by concrete evidence. Once you have made your complaints, do not dictate the pace with which your case is heard and determined. Let the case follow its due process and only wait to observe if your harasser has changed or not. If there happens to be no change at all, perhaps it is now time to take it up with your sexual harassment attorney.
Seeking For Legal Redress
Generally, the law requires that you exhaust all the laid-down sexual-harassment complaint-procedure in your workplace before taking up the matter with your attorney. Now, if you are dissatisfied with the manner in which the matter was handled internally, you can now contact your New York sexual-harassment lawyer. But just before doing that, be sure you have contacted various credible witnesses and have taken their statements.
Witness statements, along with the evidence you had collected earlier, should be secured in places where it is hard to lose them. It is always wise to have them in different hard and soft copies, just in case you lose some. If the discrimination saw you go for any mental treatment, be sure to keep records of such treatments.
It is also important to remember that you need not necessarily be the victim to report a sexual harassment. Anyone can make a complaint as a witness or other interested parties, as long as they can adduce sufficient evidence to back up their claims.