Our award winning New York Sexual Harassment lawyers have been asked to comment on a recent case that was filed against HSBC. In short, in this case, a male employee (referred to herein as “plaintiff”) alleged that he was sexual harassed by male co-worker and HSBC retaliated after he complained to management. If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, contact our office to discuss your specific situation and your options.
In this case, the plaintiff alleged that his co-worker’s sexually harassed conduct included explicit requests for sexual favors, unwanted physical touching, and inappropriate sexual comments about plaintiff’s appearance. The harassing conduct occurred for approximately six months. The plaintiff alleged that he complained to management repeatedly but did not receive the support he sought. On the contrary, the plaintiff alleged that he was fired one week after his most recent complaint to his manager. In response, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit in federal court against HSBC based on the contention that it discriminated and retaliated against him because of his gender and the company “created and/or ratified a hostile work environment culminating in the abrupt termination of [his] employment as a result of his repeated protests against and unwillingness to submit to [his co-worker’s sexual advances.” According to press reports, the case was recently settled.
The case has some interesting takeaways for victims of sexual harassment and employers. The alleged conduct here occurred in New York City, and a result, one of the applicable laws is the New York City Human Rights Law, which has a lower threshold to prove sexual harassment than the state and federal law. Second, sexual harassment claims often include he said/she said allegations and here, it appears that there were no witnesses – it is helpful to obtain as much corroborating evidence as possible to support a claim whether it is a text message, email message, picture or eyewitness. Third, of note for employers, it is important to train managers on how to respond to complaints of sexual harassment – plaintiff here alleged that management did not appropriate investigate and respond to the complaints. A company’s response is critical and if ignored it can lead to a lawsuit like in this case. However, a proper response can lead to a resolution without litigation. Finally, of note for employees, it is helpful, although not necessarily required, to make complaints or follow-up correspondence in writing so there it is indisputable that a complaint was made. Finally, some people still ask if generally sexual harassment cases involving the same gender are viable and the answer is yes – sexual harassment is about the exertion of power.
If you or someone you know is being sexually harassed in the workplace, contact our lead employment lawyer for a confidential consultation.
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