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How Long Do You Have to Sue for Sexual Harassment in New York City?

— February 14, 2022

If you work in New York City, you can file a formal complaint with three different agencies.

Sexual harassment is strictly prohibited in the state of New York, but that doesn’t mean that this harmful practice has magically disappeared. Many employees in New York City continue to suffer intolerable harassment in their workplace and, sadly, most of them don’t know how to address the problem. If you find yourself in such a situation, the best thing you can do is to look up the best New York City harassment lawyers you can find and let them guide you through the process. You are not powerless and you don’t have to put up with any sort of gender-based discrimination. All you need is guts and good legal advice.

How do I report sexual harassment in New York City?

Under New York’s Labor Law, all employers must have a sexual harassment prevention policy in place, no matter how many employees they have. If they only have one employee, that person must be provided with a copy of that policy in written form. A standard policy must explain what kind of behavior falls under sexual harassment, what disciplinary measures might be imposed on those found guilty of such behavior, and a complaint mechanism. Basically, any employee needs to know exactly who they should speak to if they are subjected to any type of harassment. 

The first step is to talk to your supervisor, manager or a designated person in the HR department. Your complaint needs to be investigated promptly and your employer should inform you of their conclusions and the measures they’re taking to put an end to the unpleasant situation.

If you want, you can be represented by your chosen lawyers even at this stage. Your attorney can help you present evidence supporting your claim and see to it that your rights are upheld.

Obviously, there are cases when it’s your supervisor or employer who’s harassing you. Those are known as quid pro quo cases and there’s no point in complaining to the boss that’s pestering you with requests for sexual favors. You should, however, let them know that you find their behavior offensive so they won’t be able to defend themselves by saying they thought you welcomed their sexual advances. 

How long do I have to sue?

If you work in New York City, you can file a formal complaint with three different agencies. For instance, you can file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and you have 300 days from the date of the last incident to do so. Also, you can complain to the New York Division of Human Rights or the New York Commission on Human Rights, within one year of the date of the last incident. These agencies have a work-sharing agreement, so you don’t have to file a complaint with each of them.

Black and white analog egg timer; image by Marcelo Leal, via
Image by Marcelo Leal, via

Talk to some experienced New York sexual harassment lawyers beforehand and let them gather all the evidence required. You can submit any sexually-explicit messages you received or pictures of graphic displays in the office. For verbal or physical harassment, your lawyers will probably want to talk to eyewitnesses who can corroborate your story. 

In most cases, a sexual harassment complaint can be settled at this stage. Any of the agencies mentioned above can negotiate a settlement between you and your employer.

However, if that is not possible, your sexual harassment lawyers will file a lawsuit in a state or federal court. You have three years to file a suit. You won’t have to pay your lawyers anything at this point. Sexual harassment lawyers work on a contingency fee basis and get paid only if they win the case. 

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