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Court Discusses Continuing Violations in Sexual Harassment Claims in New York

Although many people assume the victim is female when they hear reports of sexual harassment in the workplace, men can be victims of sexual harassment as well. Regardless of whether a victim of sexual harassment is a man or a woman, however, it is essential for any victim of sexual harassment that wishes to pursue claims against his or her employer to take action in a timely manner. In some cases, though, if the harassment is ongoing, it may be deemed a continuing violation and may fall within the statute of limitations regardless of when the initial harm occurred. This was demonstrated in a recent case decided by a New York District Court, in which the court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims on the grounds that they were untimely. If you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is prudent to consult a capable New York sexual harassment attorney to assess what damages you may be owed.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Harassment

It is alleged that in April 2012, the plaintiff began working as a materials coordinator for the defendant employer. In May 2014, the defendant supervisor began making sexual advances and comments to the plaintiff, and touching him inappropriately. The plaintiff did not respond to the defendant supervisor’s advances but did not report them either, for fear of retaliation. The defendants subsequently engaged in several acts that created a hostile work environment.

Reportedly, the plaintiff requested numerous meetings with Human Resources, but only one meeting occurred, and no corrective action was taken thereafter. The plaintiff was subsequently terminated after which he filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which granted the plaintiff a right to sue letter. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging numerous counts of sexual harassment, including a hostile work environment claim. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss arguing, inter alia, that the plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim was barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

Continuing Violations Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

A plaintiff alleging that sexual harassment created a hostile work environment in violation of  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) must show that the harassment was so pervasive and severe that it changed the conditions of the plaintiff’s employment and created abusive working conditions. Further, a plaintiff that seeks to pursue a Title VII claim must file a claim with the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory conduct, prior to filing a lawsuit.

A hostile work environment claim will not be barred by the plaintiff’s failure to file an EEOC claim within the required time, however, if all of the acts that form the basis of the claim are part of the same illegal employment practice, and at least one of the unlawful acts falls within the statutory period. As such, the court must determine whether the acts are sufficiently related by evaluating whether they were similar, whether the same person committed the acts, and how close in time the acts occurred.

In the subject case, the inappropriate contact between the defendant supervisor and the plaintiff was outside of the 300-day period. The plaintiff alleged, however, that the acts were part of a continuing violation. Thus, the court found they were sufficiently related, and denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss due to the plaintiff’s failure to file an EEOC claim within 300 days of the initial discriminatory act.

Discuss Your Case with an Assertive New York Employment Attorney

If your employer sexually harassed you or permitted a coworker to harass you at work, you should meet with an assertive sexual harassment attorney regarding your potential claims. The knowledgeable employment attorneys of Gerstman Schwartz LLP will work diligently to help you seek the best outcome available under the facts of your case. We can be reached via our form online or via telephone at (212) 227-7070 for our Manhattan office or (516) 880-8170 for our Garden City office to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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