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New York employees should know their rights in the workplace

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for an employer to hire or fire anyone based on their color, religion, gender or ethnicity. It also makes it illegal for those who complain of sexual harassment or who take part in a sexual harassment case to experience any form of retaliation from their employer. These rules apply to any company that has more than 15 employees whether it is a private company or government organization.

There are generally considered to be two prohibited forms of sexual harassment. The first is quid pro quo where employment is contingent on whether or not an employee is willing to provide sexual favors for a manager or any other member of the company. The second form of sexual harassment comes in the form of a hostile work environment.

A hostile work environment comes from others in the company using sexual language, asking for sexual favors or any other form of sexual harassment that makes it difficult for an average employee to do his or her job. While statistics indicate that women are frequently the victim of sexual harassment, 16 percent of the complaints filed in 2007 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were made by men. Iit is thought that the number may be higher due to the fact that men may be less likely to report such harassment.

Sexual harassment can take many different forms in the workplace. Any worker who is subjected to unwanted advances that make it hard to do his or her job correctly may wish to obtain redress for the unwarranted and unlawful acts. An attorney who has experience in employment law can advise a client on the various alternatives that may be available.

Source: AAUW, "Know Your Rights: Workplace Sexual Harassment", July 10, 2014

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