Good News for Women’s Rights in the Workplace (for a change).
NY Lowers Employee Threshold for Bringing Sexual Harassment Claims, and Enhances Remedies
If you work anywhere in New York and you’re experiencing unwelcome sexual attention in the workplace, it’s now illegal, even if you work for a tiny company and you’re the only employee.
To successfully bring a sexual harassment claim under federal law, there must be at least 15 employees in your company, and until January 19, 2016, New York law required that your company must employ at least 4 employees before you could bring a sexual harassment case.
Now, all employers are covered under the New York State Human Rights Law, so if you’re being sexually harassed, objectified or sexualized due to your gender, or if your work environment is severely hostile because of sexist or misogynistic statements or acts, you are still protected and have the right to oppose such unlawful discriminatory treatment, regardless of the size of the company, even if there’s only one boss and you’re his or her sole employee.
Also, as of January 2016, attorney’s fees may now be sought for victims of sex-based claims of discrimination in the workplace, putting more pressure on employers to resolve cases quickly.
Sexual harassment complaints against small employers may be filed at your local New York State Division of Human Rights office, or in state court in the county where you work, and if the case does not settle and if it survives summary judgment, you would be entitled to a jury trial.
If you’re suffering through some form of sexual harassment, it is most empowering to take a stand while you’re still employed with the offending company, and whatever you do, DON’T QUIT, as a resignation implies giving up significant leverage and “damages” against your employer.