Recently, there have been multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against some of the world’s most powerful and famous people, including Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., and Matt Lauer. These accusations demonstrate instances of sexual misconduct in the workplace where a person of authority uses his or her position to make unwanted sexual advances or sexual requests in exchange for something. Any form of direct or indirect unwelcomed or inappropriate conduct results in a hostile work environment. Some examples of the most common types of sexual misconduct that result in a hostile work environment include:
- Inappropriate sexual photos in the workplace;
- Inquiring about a person’s sexual preference or any other question related to sex;
- Sending pornographic pictures to colleagues;
- Unwelcomed advances, including touching or rubbing;
- Sending suggestive emails or other communications
- Sexual jokes; and
- Inappropriate gestures or starring.
Though society may act as the court of public opinion, these powerful people have faced limited consequences within the judicial system for their wrongful conduct. However, the legal system provides opportunities for those that are a victim of sexual misconduct to be compensated for the harm he or she experienced. While the criminal punishment for sexual misconduct examines the seriousness of the wrongdoing and the perpetrator’s intent, the civil component seeks to make a victim whole from the harm caused by the perpetrator’s wrongdoing.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is prohibited because it is a form of gender discrimination. In accordance with the law, a sexual harassment claim may be filed with the following agencies:
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC);
- New York State Division of Human Rights; and
- New York City Commission on Human Rights.
While New York does not tolerate employment discrimination and harassment, it does have a three-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit, which means that victims of sexual misconduct must act before their claim is barred.
If you believe you have been a victim of sexual misconduct by your employer or have been wrongfully terminated, contact an experienced New York employment law attorney who can ensure that your rights are protected. Call Steven Mitchell Sack at 917-371-8000.