Understanding Sexual Harassment in NYC

New York City is a vibrant and diverse metropolis, but unfortunately, like any other community, it is not immune to the pervasive issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. Understanding what constitutes sexual harassment, knowing your rights, and being aware of the appropriate steps to take is crucial for fostering a safe and respectful environment. We will delve into the essential information surrounding sexual harassment in NYC, covering what it is, what to do if you experience or witness it, and the legal protections employees have that protect you from such behaviors.

Sexual harassment is broadly defined as any unwelcome behavior, advances, or requests of a sexual nature that interfere with an individual’s work or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. It can occur in various settings, including the workplace, educational institutions, public spaces, and online platforms.

Types of Sexual Harassment:

Quid Pro Quo Harassment:

This occurs when someone in a position of authority demands sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits, promotions, or other work-related opportunities.

Hostile Work Environment:

A hostile work environment is created when unwelcome sexual conduct or comments make the workplace intimidating, offensive, or uncomfortable. This can include nonconsensual physical contact, inappropriate jokes, comments, or images like “memes”.


Retaliation happens when an individual faces adverse actions, such as termination or demotion, for reporting or opposing sexual harassment.

Knowing Your Rights:

In New York City, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) serves as a comprehensive legal framework that prohibits sexual harassment and protects individuals from such behavior. Under NYCHRL, employees have the right to work in an environment free from discrimination and harassment based on sex or gender.

Steps to take if You Experience or Witness Sexual Harassment:

  1. Document the Incident:
    Keep a detailed record of the incident, including dates, times, locations, and descriptions of the harassment. Save any relevant communication, such as emails or text messages.
  2. Report to a Supervisor or Human Resources:
    If you experience or witness sexual harassment, it is essential to report the incident promptly. Many organizations have specific procedures for reporting harassment, and notifying a supervisor or the human resources department is often the first step.
  3. File a Complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR):
    If the internal reporting process does not lead to resolution, you can file a complaint with the NYCCHR, the city agency responsible for enforcing the NYCHRL. They will investigate the complaint and take appropriate action to address the situation.
  4. Seek Legal Counsel:
    If the harassment persists or if you face retaliation for reporting, consulting with an attorney specializing in employment law can provide guidance on potential legal actions.

Sexual harassment is a serious issue that requires collective efforts to eradicate. In NYC, individuals are protected by robust anti-discrimination laws, and it is crucial to be aware of these rights to ensure a safe and respectful community. By understanding what constitutes sexual harassment, knowing your rights, and taking appropriate action, we can contribute to creating workplaces and environments that are free from harassment and discrimination. Remember, your voice matters, and you have the right to live and work without fear of harassment.

At John J. Zidziunas & Associates, LLC our employment discrimination lawyers represent employees that are harmed by sexual harassment in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau County, or Suffolk County workplaces. If you were harmed in this way, call us at (973) 509-8500 or complete our online form. We understand that speaking up can be terrifying as you may face the prospect of losing your job or losing your source of income altogether, but it is the right thing to do. Nobody deserves to endure a hostile and harassing work environment. We represent workers on a contingency fee (winning the case) basis with free consultations.