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What constitutes sexual harassment and who is protected?


At workplaces in Westchester, White Plains and throughout New York, employees are protected from sexual harassment. Although there might be certain behaviors that are automatically known to fall into the category of sexual harassment, there are other behaviors that might not be as obvious and clear-cut. It can also be confusing as to who can bring a claim for sexual harassment even if there were no overtly negative consequences at the workplace. When there is a belief that it is taking place, it is essential to know exactly what falls into the category of being a violation and how to deal with it.

Sexual harassment does not just have to be unwanted touching to be a violation. It can also include verbal and physical behaviors. If, for example, there are offensive statements or jokes of a sexual manner, touching and groping, sex acts stemming from coercion, requests for sexual favors or sexually suggestive acts, comments about sexual preferences or gender, and sexual gesturing, it is sexual harassment.

Everyone is protected from being a victim of harassment. It protects men and women. Also protected are third parties who might have witnessed harassing behaviors. People who are being harassed by others of the same sex are protected - it does not have to be of the opposite sex to be considered harassment. If the third party would like to complain, one of the following circumstances must be in place: employment is contingent on giving in to sexual demands; the harassment that was pointed at others hindered the work environment for the third party; or there is a hostile work environment for the third party and it results from sexual conduct even if it is consensual.

A hostile work environment, a firing, a demotion or any other mistreatment due to unwanted sexual behaviors in the workplace can form the basis for a legal filing to be compensated. It is vital for a person to understand his or her rights if sexual harassment is taking place and to contact and discuss the matter with a qualified legal professional.

Source: ag.ny.gov, "Sexual Harassment In The Workplace," accessed on June 8, 2017

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