New York Sexual Harassment and Employment Discrimination Lawyers
Lawyers dedicated to fighting employee injustice throughout New York
Workplace Sexual Harassment, a Hostile Work Environment, and Employment Discrimination are serious problems that many New York employees have to grapple with. If you have been a victim of any of these forms of injustice, you may find yourself asking:
- Have I been sexually harassed at my workplace?
- Am I in a hostile work environment?
- Am I being exposed to discrimination at work?
- Am I being treated differently because of my race, religion, color, national origin or sex?
- Am I being denied opportunities because of my pregnancy?
- Am I being passed over for a promotion because of my perceived disability or sexual orientation?
- Was I the target of retaliation for making a sexual harassment or discrimination complaint?
In New York, it is unlawful for an employer or business owner to discriminate against you because of your sex (which often involves sexual harassment) race, religion, national origin, color, creed, age, disability or sexual orientation (actual or perceived). It is also illegal for an employer to discriminate because you asked for leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or because you asked to be paid Minimum Wage or Overtime Pay pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Although there are many forms of Discrimination, it often involves one of the following unlawful acts where an employer or business owner:
- refuses to offer you a job
- refuses to promote you or give you a raise
- refuses to pay you the same wage as other workers who do the same job
- yells at you and gives you more difficult tasks in retaliation for complaining about discrimination
- refuses to pay you the commissions you earned
- pays you less than the minimum wage
- refuses to pay you overtime when you work more than 40 hours a week
- fires you or terminates your for making a complaint about discrimination
- makes your job intolerable to force you to quit
- treats you differently and unfairly compared to your coworkers
The Sexual Harassment and Employment Discrimination often result in a Hostile Work Environment for the employee who may be confused or uncertain about the Law or concerned about losing their job. The lawyers at Akin Law Group are here to answer your questions and to help you get the justice you deserve. The call and consultation is always Free and Confidential; your employer will not know about your consultation unless we have to take the next step.
Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. Sexual harassment can consist of either overt or subtle physical and verbal acts. It is not illegal for individuals that you work with to ask you out for dinner or a date, but if their advances are coercive, or continue despite your objection, you may be the victim of sexual harassment. In addition to sexual harassment, if your manager or boss touches you (not just your breast or buttocks, but even other parts of your person) without your consent, his acts may also be deemed a sexual assault.
Victims of sexual harassment often find themselves the target of harsh words, insults, threats, unfavorable reviews, and even termination for refusing to go out with someone. They may also find themselves in situations where they are touched in an offensive or sexual manner without their consent. These situations need not be recurring: a single act that is highly offensive may qualify as sexual harassment.
QUID PRO QUO SEXUAL HARASSMENT
In addition to the sexual harassment mentioned above, there is a second type of Sexual Harassment known as “Quid Pro Quo” where a manager or business owner may demand that you engage in a sexual act or allow him to touch you in order to keep or advance in your job. For example, a supervisor may tell a subordinate that he will give her a raise or a good review only if she goes on a date with him; an employer may tell his secretary that she has to wear mini-skirts, low-cut shirts or tight outfits to work for him; or worst, a business owner may tell a female employee she has to be willing to stay in the same room with him during business trips and have sex with him when he demands it. Although some demands are more intrusive than others, all acts of this type are illegal since they make a person's job or working condition contingent upon acts of a sexual nature.
Often times, there are no witnesses to sexual harassment which takes place behind closed doors or out of sight where obtaining evidence may have many challenges. If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment, you must seek legal counsel as soon as possible to protect your rights and prevail on your claim.
HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Every employee has the right to a safe and respectful work environment free from hostilities. Unfortunately, all too often this is not the case. Many employees are subjected to hostile work environments, which often involve intimidation, oppression, ridicule, and offensive words and/or acts. Sexual harassment is one of a variety of acts that can cause or contribute to a hostile working environment. Others, just to name a few, include racist (the “N” word) and sexist remarks (“woman don’t belong here”), vulgar language, ridicule about one’s religion or other forms of inappropriate comments about a person’s individual characteristics. These actions often intimidate and seriously disturb the victims to such an extent that the work place becomes permeated with hostility and distress preventing the victim from performing their duties at work. With a hostile work environment, in addition to the actual victim, the victim’s family also suffers both emotionally and financially. Everybody has the right to earn a living without having to deal with cruel and malicious comments and actions. If you feel that your work conditions have been made unacceptably hostile, or want to know if the hostility you face at work has risen to an actionable level, call today for a Free Consultation.
Even though it is illegal to discriminate according to race, religion, color, creed, age, disability, sex, actual or perceived sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, or national origin many individuals continue to face discrimination during both the hiring process and the workday. Often times the employer or manager cannot hold back and hide the bigotry or anti-Semitism they possess. In these types of cases, the discrimination becomes open and obvious. Making fun of an Asian person, calling an African American person a “monkey” or using the “N” word, referring to a Spanish person as a “Spic” or calling woman “dumb” or saying “they belong in the kitchen” are just a few of the outrageous comments people have been exposed to. These comments are then followed by a tangible employment action like a demotion, failure to promote, termination of employment and the like.
In addition to open and obvious forms of Discrimination with verbal insults and explicit comments as stated above, Discrimination can also take place on an unspoken level in an unobvious manner. For example, a woman may be paid less than a man, despite the fact that she is doing the same type and is praised and receives better reviews than her male counterparts. An African American male may be passed over for a promotion which is given to a white colleague, even though the African American employee is praised and told that he performs better on the job. A woman wearing a hijab may be told she is a great worker while being denied raises that are given to other woman despite coming to work late, having constant absences and having less seniority.
Employment Discrimination is unfair / unacceptable and should not be tolerated. By refusing to voice a complaint, the employee is not only allowing the employee to discriminate against him/her, they are allowing the employer to set a trend where they continue the discrimination against all similarly situated employees. Someone that discriminates against one woman, will discriminate against other woman. The lawyers at Akin Law Group recognize this, and proactively seek justice for clients facing employment discrimination. The consultation is always free and always discrete.
Under the Article 19 of the New York State Labor Law, employees must be paid a minimum wage of $8.75 per hour that they work starting on December 31, 2014 which will increase to $9.00 per hour as of December, 31, 2015. This includes individuals that are paid on a "commission only" basis. Commissions must be set and arranged in such a manner so that the hourly wage earned does not fall below the legal requirement. The only employees who do not have to be paid minimum wage are those in the hospitality industry who earn tips, such as waiters and waitresses. According to the New York State Hospitality Industry Wage Order, a waiter / waitress shall receive at least $5.65 per hour in wages whereby credit for tips shall not exceed $3.10 per hour (going up to $3.35 per hour in 2016), provided that the total of tips received and the wages earned equals or exceeds $8.75 per hour in 2014 and $9.00 per hour in 2016.
Regardless of classification, however, if you are being paid less than the minimum wage (currently $8.75), call an attorney immediately to learn your rights. You will not be charged a fee since it is mandatory for your employer to pay attorneys’ fees and costs. You have nothing to lose by calling today.
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 $8.75 per each hour that they work, at a minimum every employee that works in New York State must earn at least $13.125 an hour (in overtime pay) for each hour that they work in excess of 40 hours per week. 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 some exceptions to overtime pay; not all employees qualify. However, these exceptions are narrowly tailored, and employers who stretch them beyond their legal limits may be violating overtime regulations. If you are working more than 40 hours per week and are not getting paid overtime, you should call the Akin Law Group immediately to schedule a free and confidential consultation. As with minimum wage, you will not be charged a fee since it is mandatory for your employer to pay attorneys’ fees and costs.
Retaliation is any action that an employer takes to adversely affect the work or working conditions of an employee that complained about or opposed discrimination in the workplace. Regardless of the type and circumstance of the discrimination (sexual harassment or otherwise), it is illegal for the employer to retaliate against an employee who speak out on his/her own behalf or on behalf of a co-worker.
Retaliation may take many forms. By just a few examples an employee that complains about discrimination or asks her boss to stop touching may become the target of discrimination where her employer: moves her a different shift, assigns her the worst tasks, increases her work load, starts to scrutinize everything she does and gives her unsatisfactory or negative reviews, starts scolding or treating her in a harsh manner, denies her the raise or a promotion she earned, or outright terminates her employment.
The same laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex, race, color, creed, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, and disability, as well as wage differences between men and women performing essentially the same work, also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose or voice their concerns against unlawful discrimination. These laws also protect employees from forms of all forms of retaliation such as coercion, intimidation, threats, and additional harassment. If you are the victim of retaliation, contact the Akin Law Group for a Free and Confidential consultation immediately to protect yourself and your job.
WHAT CAN A LAWYER DO FOR YOU?
If you have been the subject of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, or unlawful discrimination, an Attorney may be able to obtain the following relief for you:
- Stop the harassment
- Obtain the promotion or relocation sought
- Prevent the employer from terminating you or obtain re-employment
- Compensation for emotional distress
- Compensation for Lost earnings (back pay)
- Compensation Future lost earnings (front pay)
- The minimum wage or overtime pay you are entitled to
- Punitive damages to punish the employer
- Liquidated damages (for minimum wage and overtime claims)
- Attorney’s fees and costs
Seasoned attorneys concentrating their practice in Employment Law with an emphasis on sexual harassment and employment discrimination can help you recover for your damages and obtain the compensation your deserve. If you have experienced harassment or discrimination, don’t hesitate to act immediately, as many claims are time-barred.
In many cases, the first step in fighting against sexual harassment and discrimination is contacting an attorney that can work with you. The attorneys may help you file a claim with a government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR), or the New York City Commission of Human Rights (NYCCHR) or start negotiating with your employer for a more expeditious result. Although these agencies are available to the general public, filing a claim with them may be confusing, and/or involve knowledge of the law. Claims that are filed incorrectly may have binding effects on the employee and be detrimental to a full recovery. As such, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney before and during the filing process to help guide you through the maze.
Contact Akin Law Group for a Free Consultation Today. No Fees Unless We Recover for You.
The experienced attorneys at Akin Law Group are prepared to fight for your rights. We have experience in handling a wide variety of Sexual Harassment, Employment Discrimination and Wage/Hour cases, and are confident that we can help you. Unlike many other law firms, we never charge fees unless we make a recovery. Call or email us today to learn more about the firm and to set up a Free Consultation which is always Confidential.