August 8, 2018

City Human Rights Law Crushes Boss’s Subtle Amorous Advances | EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

City Human Rights law Crushes Boss’s Subtle Amorous Advances | EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

This week’s case involves sexual harassment in the workplace, an advertising agency, and provides an important lesson to supervisors: there is no room in the industry for salacious supervisors.

Suri’s supervisor used his position to implicitly demand sexual favors, and, when she rebuffed him, made her life miserable for the next 18 months.

On the boss’s first day as Senior Vice President, he walked into Suri’s office and told her she had beautiful hair. The next day he told her that she had really nice boots. About a week later, when she sat next to the boss at a meeting, he put his hand on her thigh, close to her knee, and squeezed lightly for a few seconds. Suri immediately moved away. After that meeting, her boss’s behavior towards her changed: he dismissed her work; talked over her; put his hand in her face when she was talking; criticized, belittled and mocked her in front of other employees; cut her out of meetings; withheld resources; and delayed one of her projects. He stopped talking to her, even though he sat next to her. Other employees followed along believing that it was permissible to disrespect her.

Suri complained to human resources manager who responded: "that that's how men are and we have to tiptoe around their egos and this is a male-dominated world and we already know we work twice as hard as they do with less pay." Suri sued for sex discrimination under the NY State law and the NY City law.  The lower court dismissed the entire case. But on appeal, the City Law claim was revived. The court stated: an employee “need not demonstrate that the incidents of an employer's unwelcome sexual conduct were "severe and pervasive" in order to establish an actionable claim of sexual harassment under the City HRL.”

Here is the case: http://nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2018/2018_05627.htm

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