AG releases guide on sexual harassment in the workplace

ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN-TV) - The New York Attorney General’s Office released a guide on sexual harassment in the workplace.

The guidance provides victims of sexual harassment with information on the appropriate agencies to consult should they want to file a complaint or take legal action.

Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination that involves unwelcome conduct used as the basis for hiring or other employment decisions such as promotions, raises, or job assignments, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

The harasser can be a supervisor, co-worker, or someone who is not an employee.

“No New Yorker should be forced to walk into a workplace ruled by sexual harassment, intimidation, or fear,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “In recent months, we’ve begun a long-overdue reckoning with the systemic failure of many institutions to protect women and all victims of sexual harassment. This guidance will help New Yorkers understand their rights and their options when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace.”

The Attorney General’s guidance offers a variety of resources on the rights of victims and all available options to them, beyond reporting harassment to employers, including:

  • Sexual harassment is prohibited by Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, New York State Human Rights Law and, in some instances, local law (for example, the New York City Administrative Code). The NYS Human Rights Law also protects against harassment based on gender identity or transgender status.
  • The law protects both men and women, and also covers incidents in which the harasser and the victim are of the same sex, regardless of sexual orientation.
  • Harassment on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation is prohibited by the New York State Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (“SONDA”). For more information on SONDA, visit the Attorney General’s website.
  • If harassment involves physical touching, coerced physical confinement, or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime and should also be reported to the local police department.
  • Retaliation for making a complaint about sexual harassment is prohibited by law. If this occurs, you may have a separate claim of retaliation, in addition to any claim of sexual harassment. Retaliation occurs when the terms and conditions of one’s work are unfavorably changed as a result of one’s reporting sexual harassment or cooperating with the investigation of a sexual harassment complaint or lawsuit.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, one in four women experience sexual harassment in the workplace.


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