Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited by Federal and New York State law.
Sexual harassment by your landlord is also prohibited by Federal and New York State law.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Sexual harassment in the workplace may include unwelcome sexual advances, comments intended to solicit sexual favors, and other verbal or physical sexually suggestive forms of harassment. A pattern of unwelcome sexually charged comments or actions may give you the right to bring a claim against your employer for sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can occur when an employee is required to perform sexual favors as a condition of employment, referred to as “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. For example, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employer takes, or threatens to take, adverse action against an employee unless the employee performs sexual favors for him/her, such as suspension, reassignment, refusal to promote, removal of responsibilities, or termination.
Sexual harassment can occur when the sexually charged conduct of another employee creates “hostile work environment”. The law does not forbid random comments or comments that are not serious in nature. However, the more frequent and severe the behavior, the more likely it is that the conduct has created a hostile work environment. Even one act, if severe enough, can create an actionable hostile work environment.
Generally, a hostile work environment exists when unwelcome sexual advances, comments and/or conduct become so severe that they interfere with the victim’s work performance or create a hostile or intimidating work environment. A hostile work environment often makes it difficult for an employee to perform his or her job functions. Employers may use this poor performance as a reason to terminate an employee.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is important that you properly report the sexual harassment to your employer.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment of a Tenant?
As with sexual harassment in the workplace (above), sexual harassment of a tenant can be either in the form of quid pro quo sexual harassment (“conditioned tenancy claim”) or a “hostile environment” claim. If your landlord either: (1) conditioned any of the terms, conditions or privileges of tenancy on submission to his/her sexual requests; or (2) deprived you of any of the terms, conditions or privileges of tenancy because he or she refused to accede to those requests, then you may have a claim against your landlord for sexual harassment.
If you were subjected to unwelcome and extensive sexual harassment, in the form of sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature from your landlord, which were not solicited or desired by you, and which were viewed as undesirable or offensive and it was so pervasive that it affected your living environment, you may have a cause of action against your landlord for sexual harassment. If an employee of the landlord is subjecting you to sexual harassment, you may also have a claim against the landlord if you can demonstrate that the landlord/owner knew or should have known about the sexual harassment and failed to remedy the situation promptly. This can be established by the tenant through documented complaints to the landlord/owner of the property.
Same-Sex Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is unlawful under Federal and State law whether the victim is of the same sex or the opposite sex. Period.
Protection From Retaliation
Federal and New York State laws forbid retaliation against a victim who complains of sexual harassment. In the employment context, this protection extends to hiring, reassignment, demotion, failure to promote, suspension and termination of an employee as a result of the employee’s complaint of discrimination. In the tenancy context, this protection protects against interference with your living environment, threats, and adverse conduct because you complained about the sexual harassment.
If you are the victim of sexual harassment, contact our employment law firm today.