Three sisters from Long Island recently filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against a popular restaurant where they once worked, CBS News reports.
Every American enjoys certain civil rights that people in other countries often don’t have. And one of those rights is to be free from harassment either in public or at work. But, inevitably, there are people who can’t control themselves and for one reason or another, violate the rights of co-workers on the job.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were 11,717 claims of sexual harassment on the job in the United States in 2010. Of those, only 16.4 percent were filed by men, but that was an all-time high. Among those claims, there were more than 1,400 settlements that resulted in $48.4 million in benefits for those who were harassed.
But there is a difference between sexual harassment and sexual discrimination. Discrimination means not getting a promotion, getting hired in the first place or missing out on a perk of the job not based on performance, but because of a person’s gender. Sometimes, this discrimination is out in the open for all to see, such as a preference by the boss in hiring and firing decisions. But sometimes, it is hidden in board room meetings and private discussions that requires a whistleblower to step in and put a stop to.
Harassment is something different altogether, but can be very dangerous. Harassment means getting unwanted e-mails, sexual advances or a boss trying to trade sexual favors for promotions and other benefits. Like discrimination, this is unacceptable and unlawful.
In the case of the three sisters, they allege that their former boss and co-worker used lewd comments around them and directed at them, grabbed and touched them routinely without their consent and made the work environment uncomfortable. In 2008, a cook at the restaurant was convicted of attempted sexual abuse for attacking one of the girls in the restaurant’s basement. The women, who were teenagers when they worked there, are seeking unspecified damages in federal court.
As our community becomes more and more diverse, it is crucial that our standards and laws are upheld. It is unjust that people are overlooked and treated unfairly, however the law is designed to help and correct these flaws in society. New York State has many laws that were created with people in mind and are used to give people the aid they need in tough times.
Often, people who face discrimination and a violation of civil rights feel they have little help on their side and are facing an uphill battle. But consulting with an experienced law firm is the best first step. A competent lawyer will assess your case, investigate the facts and determine the best course of action.
Perhaps a strongly worded letter to an employer will get their attention, move them to create policy changes and deal with co-workers who may be causing problems. Or perhaps litigation is needed to ensure your rights are upheld. Whatever the answer, a diligent employment lawyer can help.
The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman handles employment and labor law in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.
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