Workplace sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in New York and around the country. Employers may handle sexual harassment incorrectly, and if they do, the employee may be able to hold the employer responsible for the resulting damages.
One problem that can happen is when the employee is being harassed by a supervisor, and the workplace sexual harassment policy requires the employee to report up through the chain of command. Instead, employers should provide an alternative complaint process that would apply in this situation.
In many cases, employers fail in their investigation of sexual harassment complaints. Sometimes, they do not take the employee seriously. An investigation into a complaint should be immediate and thorough. Employers should not fail to investigate just because of who the complainant and the alleged harasser are. The investigation should also remain confidential. Other employers make the mistake of not telling the alleged harasser that they cannot retaliate against the person who complained in any manner. During the investigation, the two should be separated, and the separation should not result in a demotion for the complainant. Employers should continue to monitor the relationship between the two parties on an ongoing basis following a sexual harassment complaint.
When an employer fails to appropriately handle offensive conduct complaints, the victim may want to obtain the assistance of an employment law attorney in filing a complaint with the appropriate agencies. If the employee has suffered from retaliation in addition to the sexual harassment, they may also seek redress for the action that is prohibited by state and federal law. Examples of such retaliation can include such things as a discharge from employment, a demotion or a wage cut.