Despite public awareness of workplace harassment and the efforts some employers have taken to prevent such conduct, individuals continue to be harassed based on their sex, race, age, skin color and other legally protected characteristics. Not only is harassment a form of illegal discrimination, it is also humiliating and can interfere with a worker's livelihood. Similarly, a business that is faced with a harassment claim can suffer damage to its reputation in the marketplace.
The Law Offices of Yale Pollack pursue and defend harassment claims on behalf of employees and employers on Long Island and in New York City.
Types of Workplace Harassment
In New York, employees have a right to a workplace that is free from both sexual and nonsexual harassment and are protected by federal, state and city laws.
There are two types of sexual harassment. The first is referred to as quid pro quo which occurs when an employer demands sexual favors in exchange for a job, raise, promotion, or other employment benefit. This form of sexual harassment also occurs on Long Island or in New York City when an employee is disciplined or fired for refusing sexual advances or when an employer gives a negative performance evaluation to an employee who rejects a sexual advance.
The second type of sexual harassment occurs when an employee is exposed to a pattern of unwanted sexual behavior, comments or visual displays that create an offensive or distressing atmosphere, also referred to as a “hostile work environment.”
While women are often the target of sexual harassment, the law protects men as well, and also prohibits same-sex harassment. In order to bring a sexual harassment claim in New York, the employee must demonstrate that he or she has complained about the behavior to his or her supervisor and that managers have failed to take action to stop the disturbing behavior.
Nonsexual harassment involves offensive comments, jokes and other behavior that is intended to intimidate an employee based on his or her age, race, national origin, disability or other legally protected characteristics and results in a hostile atmosphere.
In order to prove a hostile work environment under federal and state law, an employee must show that the harassing behavior was so severe or pervasive that it altered the terms or conditions of employment. Under New York City law, however, the individual only needs to show that he or she was treated "less well" than others because of the defined trait. On the other hand, an employer can defend such a charge by demonstrating the conduct was limited to "petty slights" or "trivial inconveniences."
Damages for Harassment
If you have been the victim of workplace harassment, you may be entitled to damages including lost wages, back pay, front pay, lost bonuses, lost benefits, compensatory damages, and reinstatement. You may also obtain damages for emotional pain and suffering, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, depending on whether you bring a claim in state or federal court.
Regardless of the circumstances, proving a sexual or nonsexual harassment claim in New York can be difficult. It requires documenting incidents of harassment, the testimony of witnesses and other compelling evidence.
The Law Offices of Yale Pollack routinely represents employees who have been victims of workplace harassment in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Queens and Manhattan. At the same time, our firm recognizes that it is vitally important for employers to establish, publish, and distribute a clearly worded complaint procedure for employees to follow. It is also essential for employers to keep records showing they have taken action in response to any complaints of sexual harassment.
If you complain about discrimination or harassment or other workplace violations on Long Island or in New York City, your employer cannot take any action that adversely affects your employment because of your complaints. These actions include discipline, negative evaluations, warnings, salary reduction, demotion, or firing. Retaliation may also be more subtle, such as changing work shifts or job assignments, or may involve hostile attitudes or behavior by managers, supervisors, or coworkers toward an individual who has made a complaint.
Federal, state and local employment laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who complain or who seek to enforce their employment rights. In addition, New York City's Human Rights Act provides greater protection against subtle forms of retaliation. The damages that can be awarded depend on the type of retaliation claim and generally include back pay, front pay, lost benefits, reinstatement, compensatory and punitive damages.
If you have been the victim of workplace harassment or your employment rights have been violated for making a complaint, you need the Law Offices of Yale Pollack by your side to protect your rights. Our firm has extensive experience protecting employees from the lingering humiliation of harassment and retaliatory acts of employers. We also advise employers about how to create policies that will prevent harassment and defend them against harassment and retaliation claims.
With an office in Syosset, New York, the Law Offices of Yale Pollack represents clients in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Queens and Manhattan. Call our office today for a free evaluation of your case at (516) 634-6340.