What is sexual harassment and what should I do if I'm a victim?

Written by
Abraham Jaros
Updated on Tuesday, Nov 7, 2023

The New York State Office of the Attorney General defines sexual harassment as any type of gender-based discrimination that involves some type of unwelcome sexual conduct. They note that it can come from a co-worker, customer, supervisor or client. It warns that no matter who it comes from, all sexual harassment is illegal.

Physical, verbal and visual offenses may all be described as sexual harassment. Any individual who is asked to do something sexually suggestive or to perform some type of sexual favor may be in violation of New York’s sexual harassment laws. So may someone who is forced to look at sexually explicit images, is forced to listen to similar types of jokes or is at the receiving end of inappropriate gestures.

Anyone who is forced to grope or touch someone else or has such an act performed on them without their consent may be guilty of sexual harassment as well. Any individual who is coerced to perform sex acts, whether as a requirement for being hired somewhere, getting a promotion or an increase in pay can allege that they were sexually harassed.

An individual who is subjected to comments, whether good or bad, related to their sexual orientation or gender may also be able to rightfully accuse an individual of sexual harassment.

If you’ve been sexually harassed, then you should first report the instance to your employer and then an attorney, who may recommend that you report the situation to either the New York State Division of Human Rights or the New York State Office of the Attorney General as well.

Many employees who are sexually harassed steer clear of reporting their poor treatment or do so after they’ve had to endure it for a long period of time out of fear that they’ll lose their job. It’s important that victims report such incidents right away though if they wish to put an end to it before it spirals out of hand. A New York sexual harassment attorney can advise you as to whether you have a valid claim in your case.

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