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Workplace Sexual Harassment / Gender Motivated Violence

Sexual harassment is unfortunately widespread. It happens in all industries and at all levels of seniority in the workplace from executives to blue collar workers to interns. Wigdor has successfully represented hundreds of victims of sexual harassment. Our lawyers have helped clients recover millions of dollars by fighting aggressively on their behalf to empower them and obtain the greatest possible outcome.

Workplace sexual harassment is categorized into two types. The first is “quid pro quo,” Latin for “this for that” which happens when a supervisor asks, requires, suggests or implies that an employee need to provide sexual favors in exchange for a job benefit like a raise, promotion or better hours. “Quid pro quo” sexual harassment is unlawful and even if individuals are involved in a relationship or activities that are consensual to some degree, a supervisor may be engaging in unlawful sexual harassment.

The other type of sexual harassment is generally called “hostile work environment,” which happens when a supervisor or co-worker initiates unwelcome sexual conduct, advances, discussions, jokes, and/or verbal or physical harassment. These cases are often proven based solely through a victim’s own testimony about what happened.  Other evidence of sexual harassment can include documents, emails, instant messaging, video, voice mails and the testimony of other employees who are witnesses or were also subjected to similar conduct.

Even if an individual has willingly participated in certain types of behavior, it does not mean they have consented to a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment causes significant harm to someone, which can come in the form of monetary loss; such as an individual who is denied promotions, bonuses, job opportunities or is terminated under circumstances arising from sexual harassment. You can claim monetary losses even if you voluntarily resign from work because the sexual harassment was so extreme.

Sexual harassment also produces emotional harm, which can impact an individual’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. Very often, victims seek professional mental health treatment to help them recover.

Gender Motivated Violence

In cases where sexual harassment involves violence, New York City’s Gender Motivated Violence Act (“GMVA”) makes it unlawful to commit an act of violence because of an individual’s gender. The GMVA protects those who are subjected to sexual violence in New York City and does not require any employment relationship between the victim and perpetrator.

Wigdor is one of a few law firms experienced in this highly specialized area of law. We were one of the first to creatively utilize the GMVA during our representation of Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid who alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was at the time among the front runners to be elected the President of France. The firm has used the GMVA successfully in many other matters, both those that have been filed and those that have settled privately.

The GMVA allows victims to potentially recover additional damages, such as compensatory damages for emotional distress, punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer and attorneys’ fees and expenses. The GMVA also has a significantly longer statute of limitations period to file a claim.

If you think you may have been a victim of sexual harassment and/or gender motivated violence – inside or outside the workplace – consult with a knowledgeable attorney to learn more about your rights and how to get the compensation you deserve.

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