NEW YORK & NEW JERSEY SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION ATTORNEYS
In New York and New Jersey, it is unlawful for a manager, supervisor, an employer or business owner to Sexually Harass your (which is a form of gender discrimination) or to Discriminate against you because of your Race, Religion, Nation Origin (nationality), Color, Creed, Age, Disability, Sex or Sexual Orientation. In addition, you cannot be targeted simply because you asked for leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or because you asked to be paid the Minimum Wage or Overtime Pay as required by law. The protection also extends to you if you have been targeted by your employer because you stood-up or spoke-out for a co-worker that was being harassed or discriminated.
The attorneys at the Akin Law Group are dedicated to fighting injustice and protecting employees that have been the victims of sexual harassment and discrimination throughout New York and New Jersey
- What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
- What is considered Discrimination at Work?
- What constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?
These are three of the questions most asked by individuals in the workforce today. The Employment Attorneys at the Akin Law Group have represented and recovered millions over the past 22 years for individuals that have been victimized at work.
Unfortunately, workplace sexual harassment, discrimination and the resulting hostile work environment run rampant in all forms of businesses across the United States. Although most employees don’t understand the terms or know the employment laws in New York and New Jersey, every employee knows when they have been treated unfairly, when they have been mistreated or when they have been the victim of vindictive retaliation by the employer.
Sexual harassment at work is a form of discrimination based on sex (gender) that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on a federal level; the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law in a State/City level; and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination in New Jersey.
Sexual harassment can consist of many overt and subtle acts and words. Sexual Harassment can start with what appears to be innocent remarks or even compliments like, you look good, you’re so sexy, and end up with rather harsh words like, I like your breast (t – – s), I want to touch you, you get me excited, etc. It is not illegal for someone that you work with to ask you out for dinner or on a date; many people do meet in this manner. However, individuals committing sexual harassment often violate individuals with words which appear to be compliments, but in reality, are unwelcome’d advances of a sexual nature. At times, harassers will insult, demean and violate individuals with words or comments disguised as jokes or opinions. If you become the target of unwanted sexual advances, harsh words, insults, threats, demeaning comments about your sex / gender, your looks, your body parts or if you have been touched in a manner that makes you feel uncomfortable, you have been sexually harassed and should speak to an attorney immediately. In addition, if you received unfavorable reviews, if your job has been made more difficult, and/or if you have even terminated (fired from your job) or threatened with termination, then you have also been the victim of illegal retaliation in addition to illegal sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is not limited to words alone. Often, an individual can be the target of sexual harassment by being touched on in an offensive or sexual manner without their consent, even if the touching does not involve the harasser’s hands (touching someone with an object, rubbing against an individual, standing too close as to violate your space, etc.). Some examples of unwelcome’d touching are: slapping someone on the buttocks (claiming its a joke), massaging an individual without their consent, brushing against a woman’s breast with hands/arms, touching someones leg / knee / groin, kissing someone without their consent (lips or elsewhere), etc. Even a single act that is highly offensive may qualify as sexual harassment.
QUID PRO QUO SEXUAL HARASSMENT
There are other forms of sexual harassment, one of which is known as Quid Pro Quo meaning “give me something for something in return”. By way of example, a supervisor may tell a subordinate that he will give her a raise or a good review only if she goes out on a date with him. Some demands can be even more perverted like demanding oral sex or sexual intercourse for good working conditions, to receive a raise, not to be written-up, or to keep a job. Anytime a person’s work or working condition is made contingent upon a sexual act, it is illegal and constitutes quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Often times, individuals that are the victims of quid pro quo sexual harassment, work in positions that are significantly inferior to the harasser, need their job to provide for themselves and their families, and/or have made a mistake at work which could have repercussions (including termination). These situations often make the harasser (usually men) feel that they can make sexual demands on an individual (usually woman) because of the leverage they have. Do not let this happen to you. No one can force you to do any sexual act even if you made a mistake at work or did something wrong! If you feel that you have been the victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment, call the Akin Law Group without delay.
Discrimination at a person job can take many different forms and maybe for various reasons. In short, it is illegal for anyone to discriminate against an employee or workers because of the person’s characteristics like: race, religion, color, creed, age, disability, sex and sexual orientation. By way of an example (regarding discrimination based on sex) discrimination based on sex is evident when a woman is treated negatively regarding the terms or conditions of her employment compared to a man where the man might be paid a higher wage for doing the same work or the man might be promoted although the woman has more seniority. Sex / Race / National Origin discrimination includes treating an employee or an applicant differently based on the person’s sex, race or national origin. Calling a woman a “dumb blond” or saying “African Americans are lazy” or “Polish people are stupid” are just a few of the stereotypical responses that exist although they are absolutely false. Another type of gender / sex discrimination includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical harassment which occurs because of the employee’s sex. Sexual harassment may be from a man to a woman, from a woman to a man or individuals in the same sex (man to a man or woman to a woman).
The Employee Discrimination often involves one of the following unlawful acts where a manager, supervisor, an employer or business owner (because of your race, religion, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age or disability):
- refuse to offer you a job
- refuse to promote you or give you a raise while promoting others
- makes fun of your religion or demeans your beliefs
- refuses to provide reasonable accomodations for your religious practice
- makes derogatory comments about your race, religion, sex, or national origin
- stereotypes you because of your race, religion or national origin
- refuse to pay you the same wage as other workers (often involving women being paid less than men / minorities being paid less than Caucasians)
- fires you or terminates your employment
- forces you to quit or resign from your job by making your employment difficult
- treats you differently and unfairly compared to your coworkers
If you feel that you have been the victim of discrimination where because of your sex, race, national origin, religion, color, creed, actual or perceived sexual orientation, your age or a disability from which you may suffer, the Akin Law Group is here to help you protect your rights. No one has the right to deny you and your family the fruits of your hard work.
HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Hostile work environment is a term that is used to describe the atmosphere at work which results from sexual harassment and/or employment discrimination where the victim is prevented from doing their normal work because of the harassment/discrimination. In addition, a Hostile Work Environment may also include other types of cases involving discrimination in the workplace associated with intimidation, oppression, ridicule and offensive words and/or acts. There can be many different forms of acts that cause and create a hostile work environment. By way of example, calling someone that has a dark complexion a monkey, calling woman a bitch, mimicking someone’s accent, calling a Muslim person a terrorist, calling someone Jewish cheap or asking if he has horns, making sexually explicit sounds, bringing nude photos or watching pornography on the computer are all acts that can intimidate and seriously disturb other individuals that are working to such an extent that one would conclude the work place to be permeated with a hostile work environment. People trying to earn a living have the right to work in an atmosphere that is free from such cruel and unacceptable comments and acts. Anyone that feels that their work conditions have been made hostile in this manner should consult with an attorney immediately.
Retaliation is any act that an employer does to adversely affect the work or working conditions of any employee that may have filed a charge of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposed discrimination in the workplace. Regardless of whether the Discrimination in the workplace stemmed from a person’s sex, race, color, creed, age, disability, sexual orientation or is related to a claim of Sexual Harassment, a Hostile Work Environment, related to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) involving the minimum wage or overtime claims, it is illegal for the employer to retaliate.
Retaliation may take many forms, from terminating (firing or discharging) the employee, to increasing the employees work load, giving the employee unsatisfactory or negative reviews, scolding or treating the employee in a harsh manner, moving the employee to an undesirable location or post, denying an employee a raise or a promotion, or harassing and ridiculing the employee.
The same laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, and disability, as well as wage differences between men and women performing substantially the same work, also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding by testifying against the employer. These laws also protect employees from other forms of retaliation like coercion, intimidation, threats, and other forms of harassment. If you are the victim of retaliation, contact an attorney immediately to protect your job.
ENTITLED TO RECOVER
If you have been the subject of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment or have otherwise been discriminated against because of who you are, you may be entitled to:
- Compensation for emotional distress
- Lost earnings (back pay)
- Future lost earnings (front pay)
- Punitive damages
- Costs and interest
- Attorney’s fees
- Reinstatement back to work (if you have been fired)
- Promotion, if you have been wrongfully denied
- Additional relief in law and/or equity
Under federal and Article 19 of the New York State Labor Law (the Minimum Wage Act) employees must be paid a minimum wage of $9.00 per each hour that they work. This includes individuals that are paid on a “commission only” basis. The commission must be set and arranged in such a manner so that the hourly wage earned does not fall below the legal requirement. In addition, many employers hire “interns” in an effort to circumvent the overtime laws. The only exceptions are those in the “hospitality industry” like waiters and waitresses that also earn tips in the course of their work. With these workers an employer can use the tips they earned to bring their rate to conform with the minimum wage. In New York State, according to the Hospitality Industry Wage Order, a waiter / waitress shall receive at least $7.50 per hour in wages whereby credit for tips shall not exceed $1.50 per hour, provided that the total of tips received and the wages earned equals or exceeds $9.00 per hour. In any event, if anyone (regardless of classification) is being paid less than the minimum wage (currently $9.00 per hour) they should immediately call an attorney to learn their rights.
Under federal and New York State Laws (as set forth by the Minimum Wage Act) an employer must pay all employee/workers overtime at a rate that is 1 ½ times the employee’s regular hourly-wage. Since the minimum wage is currently $9.00 per each hour that they work, at a minimum every employee that works in New York State must earn at least $13.50 an hour (in overtime pay) for each hour that they work in excess of 40 hours per week. Again, this rate applies to all commissioned workers, interns, those in the hospitality industry, and even to individuals that are paid “off-of-the books” in cash.
Unlike minimum wage, there are exceptions to overtime pay. Not all employees qualify. Although the exceptions are narrowly tailored, employees may be in violation in denying qualified employees overtime, stretching the exception beyond its legal limits. If anyone is working more than 40 hours per week and are not getting paid overtime, they should consult with one of the attorney at the Akin Law Group immediately for a free consultation.
RECOVERY ON MINIMUM WAGE / OVERTIME CASES
In the event you have been denied the Minimum Wage or Overtime pay, you should contact the Akin Law Group without delay. Not only will we help you recover the amounts you are owed, you may also be entitled to liquidated damages (which can double your recovery) above the amount you were cheated, our attorneys fees and costs will be paid by your employer. Hence, the recovery and representation will be free of cost to you.
GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES PROTECTING NY WORKERS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION
The EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (EEOC), the NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (NYSDHR), the NEW YORK CITY COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS (NYCCHR) and the NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE (Division of Civil Rights) are all governmental agencies (Federal, State and City) that are formed to enforce the laws protecting individuals from discrimination, including discrimination at work or on the job for all employees and workers.
Although these agencies are available to the general public, often time filing a claim with these agencies may be confusing and/or involve knowledge of the law. Claims that are filed may have binding effects on the employee and may be detrimental to a full recovery if not properly and adequately presented. Most attorneys that practice in the field of employment law, like the Akin Law Group will work closely with these agencies to protect the rights of their clients that have been sexually harassed, discriminated against, retaliated or have otherwise been the victim of unfair employment practices.
Even when considering filing a complaint with one of these agencies, victims of sexual harassment, employment discrimination or wage violations should consult with an employment attorney to help guide them through the maze.
Call the Employment Law Attorneys at the Akin Law Group for a free consultation. No fee unless we make a recovery for you.
The Akin Law Group’s office is conveniently located on Broadway in New York City’s financial district (downtown Manhattan) and is easily accessible by car (FDR Drive or West Side Highway) or public transportation (1, 4, 5 and R Trains). Parking is available at a garage directly across the street on the west side of the building.