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How can New Yorkers stop workplace sexual harassment?


Most workers in New York know that sexual harassment is a prohibited activity in the workplace. Still, even though sexual harassment has been interpreted to be a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, harassment occurs year after year. Some victims of workplace harassment choose to endure it, often out of fear of retaliation or other economic consequences. Although rarely emotionally easy, sexual harassment can be stopped, if victims are willing to address it.

What if a coworker or employer is making unwanted sexual advances or creating a sexually uncomfortable work environment? Any worker who is the subject of lewd comments or unsolicited physical contact or is subject to unwanted displays of sexual behavior or inappropriate comments must first acknowledge that these acts are sexually abusive and must stop. Once these actions have been committed or the work atmosphere has become harmful to workers in some way, the employee must file a complaint with the company's human resources department.

What happens once a complaint is filed? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will investigate the case. The victim should include details or supply substantial evidence in the complaint to ensure fast investigation. If the investigation results warrant such actions, perpetrators can be held liable for their behavior and suspended or fired from the workplace.

Anyone, regardless of gender, can be sexually harassed in the workplace. No one deserves it. For their part, employers should take every necessary step to ensure that no worker experiences sexual harassment. Workers can hold their employers accountable by remaining vigilant and immediately reporting any and all violations.

Any employee who is experiencing sexual harassment and feels threatened by coworkers or an employer should consult a knowledgeable attorney who can examine the facts of a case. The attorney can provide sound advice on what to do next.

Source: EEOC.gov, "Facts about sexual harassment," accessed on Feb. 2, 2015

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