When an employer sexually harasses a worker in New York, the employer is considered to be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Two different kinds of workplace sexual harassment are listed under Title VII. The first kind of sexual harassment is quid pro quo, and the second kind is hostile work environment.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace happens when an employee is required by a supervisor to accept an act of sexual harassment as a condition of their employment. One occurrence of quid pro quo sexual harassment gives an employee the right to file a lawsuit against their employer. An example of quid pro quo sexual harassment could be a case where a supervisor tells an employee that they will be fired if they do not tolerate an unwelcome sexual advance.
If there is a pattern of sexual harassment incidents in a workplace, the harassment may create a hostile work environment. In order to bring a lawsuit alleging that workers are subjected to a hostile work environment, one or more employees must prove that the sexual harassment in the workplace was pervasive, and tolerating the harassment was a condition of employment. Employees can bring a claim for a hostile work environment even if they were not the direct recipients of the sexual harassment that took place.
A worker who has been the target of unwelcome sexual advances by a supervisor may want to consult an attorney. If there were multiple instances of sexual harassment, an attorney may be able to help the worker to determine whether their case better fits the definition of quid pro quo or hostile work environment. The details of each case can differ greatly, and a sexual harassment victim should not confuse the information in this blog with legal advice.
Source: Findlaw, "Sexual Harassment", November 18, 2014