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Appellate court revives New York sexual harassment lawsuit

An appellate court chambered in Manhattan has revived a sexual harassment lawsuit against a brokerage firm. A New Jersey woman claimed that management at the firm ran the financial services company like it is some type of boy’s club. The company countered that the woman did not perform her job well during her time with the firm. The company argued that the woman was fired based upon her performance.

A three judge appellate panel looked at the protections provided under the law that prohibit employers from discriminating against workers—laws which further prohibit employers from harassing workers and retaliating against employees from raising complaints over workplace harassment and discrimination. A lower court judge dismissed the harassment lawsuit in 2010, finding that the woman had not presented sufficient evidence to support the claim that she was subjected to a hostile work environment.

The lower court ruled that the woman presented only evidence to show “sporadic insensitive comments’ in the trial court proceedings, according to the Associated Press. A three judge appellate panel disagreed. The appellate court ruling reinstated the case, finding that the New York Human Rights law only requires a showing of “unwanted gender-based conduct” to support a harassment claim.

The court says that the 2005 amendments to the state human rights law are treated differently from federal standards, offering workers broader protections under the state standard.

The appellate judges also say that the company provided evidence that the woman performed poorly on the job. But the court ruled that her “alleged poor performance would not excuse [the CEO’s] alleged sexual advances and demeaning behavior,'' according to the AP.

The woman claims in her lawsuit that the CEO of the financial services firm, Credit Agricole Cheuvreux North America Inc., made sexually charged comments and propositioned her. She says that she was fired for opposing the sexual charged comments. The appellate court revived the lawsuit, saying that the questions presented are for a jury to decide.

Source: NJ.com, “Hoboken woman's sexual harassment claim should get jury's attention: Court," Associated Press, April 28, 2013

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