You might think that bullying only happens on school playgrounds or over social media, but bullying can occur anywhere, even in your workplace. That continuously rude co-worker or overbearing boss is most likely bullying you, but if those comments are lewd or inappropriate, they may be guilty of sexual harassment as well.

So, are you being sexually harassed at work?

Chances are if you feel like you are there is a good chance that you are. Any employee working in the State of New York is entitled to a workplace free from sexual discrimination and harassment.

But what is sexual harassment? In short, it is the harassment that involves making unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks; typically to women but not always. Sexual harassment is not limited to members of different genders, nor only to the cubicles of your office, but between same gender and in any professional environment.

How to know if you have a sexual harassment case

Many people may think sexual harassment is blatantly obvious or overt activities such as someone making an unwanted pass at you at the water cooler. But sexual harassment is so much more than that. It may include anything from inappropriate screen savers to distasteful jokes to pin-up calendars being displayed in your office environment.  In short, if it makes you uncomfortable or creates any sort of hostile environment where you are unable to perform your job duties to the best of your ability, it’s likely going fall under this form of discrimination.

If you work for a company with more than four employees, Human Rights laws apply. It’s likely that as part of your new employee orientation as well as ongoing training, you were required to attend a Sexual Harassment class. While important for line employees, this training becomes even more critical for managers. Even though the law states that the behavior or action must be repetitive, one occurrence may serve as a red flag with which to consider filing a complaint.

Employers are required to clearly state their sexual harassment policies to all employees and should include the following:

  • The employer is committed to a workplace that is free from sexual harassment and bullying
  • Sexual harassment is illegal and the employer is liable
  • Any possible claims of sexual harassment will be investigated
  • Employees engaging in sexual harassment will be subject to disciplinary action

Another form of sexual harassment known as “quid pro quo” happens when someone in a position of authority over you (e.g. a supervisor or manager) attempts to make the conditions of your employment (hiring as well as existing employment) or a potential promotion available only for a trade for sexual favors. This does not apply to co-workers as they do not have a reporting relationship with you.

The Department of Human Rights has a good amount of guidance on sexual harassment, however, the most critical takeaway is that sexual harassment is illegal and you are within your rights to file a complaint and in doing so, be protected from any type of retaliation which consists of any type of adverse reaction to your reporting of sexual harassment.

Think you have been a victim of sexual harassment? There’s help available for you right now. Contact Carbonaro Law at (212) 513-1300