Sexual harassment is discrimination that occurs in the workplace as defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In terms of employment law the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as:
“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
• Submission to such conduct was made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment,
• Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual was used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or
• Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.”
Defenses in sexual harassment cases
A typical defense for a sexual harassment case must be strong enough to prove that the harassment allegations are wrong such as:
• A defense that shows the verbal, non-verbal, and/or physical actions of the defendant did not meet the legal definition of sexual harassment. For example, if the court finds that the victim exaggerated a claim and the defendant did not intentionally violate sexual harassment laws he or she may not be found to be guilty.
• A defense that shows that the victim’s intent is to get the defendant in legal trouble for other reasons, but is using harassment as a way to do so.
• A defense that proves that the victim is completely fabricating the harassment. Under this scenario it may be easy for the defense to find evidence against the victim and prove that the defendant was falsely accused.
Sometimes an attorney will try to use a defense that proves that a victim invited the harassment upon themselves. This can be a controversial defense and is designed to show that by dressing or acting a certain way, the victim encouraged the actions of the defendant. However, this can be risky and may be seen as an attempt to make the victim responsible for being victimized.
Conversely defenses that are not effective may include:
• That the victim was the same sex and therefore it could not be sexual harassment
• The defendant was a non-employee
• That the victim did not suffer any negative employment ability or economic injury
• That the victim had been in a previous relationship with the defendant
Discuss your harassment case with a NY employment defense law attorney
In any sexual harassment case, an experienced NY employment law attorney’s assistance is imperative to prevail. The employment harassment laws can be difficult to navigate and such cases can easily become confusing and work against the defendant. To discuss your sexual harassment case contact us online or call 718-275-6700 to schedule an appointment today.