Being the target of sexual orientation harassment is uncomfortable, humiliating and illegal.
Unfortunately, this is quite a common experience among LBGT workers. Up to 43 percent of gay and transgender workers report that they have suffered verbal or physical abuse in the workplace or have experienced vandalism of their workspaces, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.
If someone in your workplace is harassing you because of your sexual orientation, you may be unsure of where to turn for help. You should know, however, that sexual orientation harassment is a form of employment discrimination, and is illegal in the state of New York. You are protected under the law, and if you have been victimized, you may be entitled to compensation and need to contact a Long Island sexual harassment lawyer.
The Long Island sexual harassment lawyer at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP can help you if you have been the victim of workplace harassment based on sexual orientation. We understand the difficult emotions surrounding a sexual harassment complaint. We will listen to you and we will stand up to your employer or others who have violated your rights. You will quickly come to know that you can trust the attorneys at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP to look after your interests. We are ready to fight for you.
Contact us today for a free consultation.
What is Sexual Orientation Harassment?
Sexual orientation harassment is behavior that creates a hostile work environment for an employee on the basis of sexual orientation. It could include repeated jokes or slurs about sexual orientation, negative remarks about an employee based on his or her sexual orientation, the use of epithets and insults, a display of posters or pictures that offend those of a specific sexual orientation, or the sabotage of an employee’s work.
The harasser could be anybody in the workplace. Often, it’s someone who is in a position of power or authority relative to the victim, but it can also be a co-worker or a person from outside the company.
It’s also important to understand that harassment based on sexual orientation is not dependent on the actual sexual orientation of the victim. Harassers may choose a target based only on perceived sexual orientation, and this too is against the law.
New York Law and Harassment based on Sexual Orientation
Since 2003, discrimination based on sexual orientation, including harassment, has been illegal in New York under the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA). Workers in both the private and public sector are protected from harassment.
Religious institutions are a notable exception to SONDA. They are permitted to take “such action as is calculated by such organization to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained,” even if that action is discriminatory to LGBT people.
Transgender people are not specifically protected from harassment under SONDA, but a transgender person is protected from sexual orientation harassment just like anyone else. Some New York courts have held that harassment based on gender identity is prohibited under other laws, such as those that deal with discrimination based on sex and/or disability.
Compensation for Victims of Sexual Orientation Harassment
If you have been the target of sexual orientation harassment in New York, you may be entitled to compensation. You may be awarded damages for pain and suffering you’ve dealt with as the result of the acts of harassment, and for the value of any lost wages or benefits because of discrimination.
Sexual orientation harassment takes a psychological and even physical toll, and compensation is deserved. Punitive damages are not available, though some New York localities have laws that provide further damages beyond what SONDA covers. The company may also be required to take affirmative steps to ensure that the pattern of sexual orientation harassment stops.
Get Help from our LGBT Sexual Harassment Lawyers
To pursue compensation for harassment you’ve suffered, you may either file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights or directly in a state court. In either case, it’s important to have the help of an experienced attorney.
Document any instances of harassment as thoroughly as possible by keeping a written log with date, what was said or done, and by whom, and seek legal advice. The sexual harassment lawyers at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP will review your case and discuss the options for legal recourse during a free initial consultation.
If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, you have a friend and a sympathetic ear at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP. Call us now or fill out our online contact form and we will respond to you immediately.
- Center for American Progress: Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment
- U.S. Department of Labor: What Do I Need to Know About…Workplace Harassment
- Movement Advancement Project: Non-Discrimination Laws
- New York State Office of the Attorney General: The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (“SONDA”)
For a free legal consultation with a sexual orientation lawyer serving Long Island, call 516-358-6900