Resolving Claims of Sexual Harassment at Work
The persistence of workplace sexual harassment continues to create problems for employees and liability for employers. Professional and executive women are by no means immune to sexual harassment, even in respected corporations and progressive working environments. Although most sexual harassment claims are brought by women for the misconduct of men at work, the law also protects heterosexual men, gays and lesbians.
At Kaiser Saurborn & Mair, our lawyers have advised and represented attorneys, medical professionals, bankers and others whose claims arose in law firms, Fortune 500 corporations, and closely-held companies. The Firm counsels clients in cases of sexual harassment and discrimination in New York and New Jersey.
The Law Protects Employees From Two Kinds of Sexual Harassment
Most sexual harassment complaints fall under one of two categories: hostile work environment claims and quid pro quo claims. The first category is the broader of the two, and can involve circumstances ranging from unwelcome and repeated remarks about one's appearance to the circulation or display of obscene and offensive pictures, anecdotes or e-mails.
In order to establish a hostile work environment claim, it's generally necessary to show that the offensive conduct was both objectively and subjectively actionable. In other words, a reasonable person would find the conduct to be sufficiently egregious to interfere with job performance, and the claimant actually suffered as a result. It's also usually necessary to document a complaint about the offensive conduct within the workplace prior to filing suit.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual advances or conduct in circumstances indicating an imbalance of power between the aggressor and the victim, so that it's understood that refusing the advances will damage the victim's advancement within the company.
The Firm advises employees about both kinds of sexual harassment. In one such case, we successfully negotiated a $700,000 settlement for quid pro quo harassment of an attorney by a senior partner at a major New York City law firm.
In the most severe sexual harassment cases under either category, negotiated severance is usually the best way to resolve the situation. Departure on favorable terms not only results in a faster disposition of the claim, it also obviates the possibility of future retaliation by the employer.
The Firm's experience with the resolution of sexual harassment claims in professional and corporate environments benefits clients in New York and New Jersey.