Is Sexual Harassment a Form of Discrimination? - BKL Lawyers

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Is Sexual Harassment a Form of Discrimination?

Walking into work and feeling safe is the least that employees should expect when they enter their workplaces each day. However, there are many employees who do not feel safe or welcome at work. While more and more people are speaking up about sexual harassment in the workplace in recent years, many employees still suffer due to this. 

You might know that this is illegal, but do you know if it is considered a form of discrimination? Learn more about how you’re protected from workplace sexual harassment

What is Sex-Based Discrimination?

Sex-based discrimination involves treating an employee unfairly due to their sex. This can also include discriminating against an employee for their sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy. Anyone can be the target of sex-based discrimination, and this type of discrimination is illegal in the workplace regardless of the person committing the discriminatory actions and behaviors. 

Not only is it illegal to discriminate against an employee due to their sex, but it is also illegal to harass them for this characteristic. Included in illegal sex-based harassment is sexual harassment, making it a form of sex-based discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits this type of discrimination in all aspects of employment.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment can include “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Harassment based on an employee’s sex that isn’t sexual in nature can also be considered illegal, such as making offensive comments about a person’s gender identity. 

What Laws Protect NYC Employees?

Employees in New York City have federal, state, and local laws that provide protection from sex-based discrimination and sexual harassment. Some of the laws that prohibit this in the workplace include the following.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Harassment is illegal under Title VII when it is severe or frequent enough to create a hostile work environment or lead to adverse employment actions. However, Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, so this federal law may not protect all employees facing harassment.

New York State Human Rights Law – Under the NYSHRL, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is illegal. This applies to all New York employers, regardless of size, and the harassment does not need to be severe or pervasive.

New York City Human Rights Law – NYCHRL makes it illegal to discriminate against employees for their gender and considers sexual harassment to be a form of gender discrimination. Gender-based discrimination is illegal for all NYC employers, regardless of how many employees they have. 

Get Justice If You’ve Experienced Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Getting help isn’t easy. However, the dedicated NYC sexual harassment attorneys at Brown Kwon & Lam can help. We know how difficult this is, and can be there to help you get justice. Our team has the experience you need to handle a challenging situation like this and can provide the support you need.

Contact us today if you’ve experienced harassment or discrimination in your workplace.

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