The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently sued a famous New York restaurant, following accusations of sexual harassment. According to the lawsuit, sexual discrimination has been rampant for years at the Long Island Colony Diner. The business owner and other male employees routinely subjected female employees to all sorts of abuse, from sexual jokes and comments to inappropriate touching and unwanted sexual advances. All servers and hostesses knew that if they didn’t submit, they would be sent to work in other positions, with very little chances of earning tips. This went on for many years, until one female employee could not take it anymore.
If you’re in a similar situation and want to put an end to the nightmare, you need to reach out to a lawyer. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination, prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employees rights are fully protected under the New York State Human Rights Law. According to New York sexual harassment lawyers, the way the law was updated in 2019 makes it easier for victims to file a complaint and prove their claims in a court of law, if need be.
The law applies to all companies, irrespective of their size, and the victim doesn’t have to be of the opposite sex. There are two types of sexual harassment, depending on who is responsible for such behavior. If the owner or other senior employees demand sexual favors of someone in an inferior position, that’s called a quid pro quo case.
If it’s a coworker making unwanted sexual advances, lewd comments or jokes, that amounts to a hostile work environment. In the Colony Diner case, it seems like there were both types of harassment.
Sexual harassment lawyers were relieved to see that new law lowered the burden of proof for harassment claims. Under the earlier version of the law, the victim was required to prove that the harassment they were subjected to was of a pervasive nature and affected their job performance and their mental state. However, the victims still have to demonstrate that what they experienced amounts to more than what other people would reasonably consider as ‘petty slights or trivial inconveniences’. Proving this will require highly-experienced employment lawyers, whether you file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or you decide to take the matter to court.
Another improvement to the old law is that victims are no longer required to file a complaint with their employer before they can contact the EEOC. You can and are encouraged to do so if there’s reasonable hope your employer will take disciplinary action against your harassers and put an end to your torment. On the other hand, there were many cases, like the Long Island restaurant one, when it was basically absurd to complain to your employer when they’re actively participating in the abuse.
And another thing that might be of interest to some people. The time limit for filing a complaint has been extended from 1 to 3 years. If you have an older case, now might be a good time to talk to a lawyer.