The #MeToo movement has successfully shone a spotlight on sexual harassment in the workplace. Condemnation in the court of public opinion has led to high-profile firings of prominent figures in politics, sports, entertainment, and other industries. While this will undoubtedly yield positive results for the country as a whole, far too many individuals still suffer from sexual harassment in the workplace without the benefit of public outrage. For these people, employment law enforced by the courts may offer the best protection. Any individual who feels that he or she been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace should first understand his or her rights under the law before contacting an attorney.
Understand Your Rights under Federal Law
Broadly speaking, federal employment law protects individuals from harassment that is severe and pervasive enough to create a hostile or offensive work environment. Federal law applies to any company with 15 or more employees. An individual can file a sexual harassment complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but it must be filed within 180 days (or 300 days if it includes State law claims) of the last act of discrimination.
Understand Your Rights under State Law
New York State has enacted a Human Rights Law that protects employees from harassment and largely models the Federal law. Conduct must also be pervasive and severe to be actionable. State law applies to employers with 4 or more employees, so a claim that doesn’t meet the employee requirement under Federal law may still be actionable under New York law.
Unfortunately, many sexual harassment cases can come down to a matter of he-said-she-said. People can greatly improve their chances of a positive outcome in court by writing memos of problematic encounters, saving emails or text messages, or saving any other tangible evidence of sexual harassment.
No one should have to suffer unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment in the workplace. For half a century, the law firm of Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP has been serving the Hudson Valley, helping people protect and assert their rights across a broad spectrum of practice areas, including employment law. If you’ve been subjected to emotional distress or intimidation, you may have recourse to legal action. If you believe you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment, contact our firm today at 845-778-2121 to speak with an experienced attorney.