Sexual harassment can take many forms. Some are subtle, such as a co-worker's initially innocent flirtation that eventually goes too far. Other times sexual harassment is much more blatant, i.e. firing or refusing to hire someone because they will not date you.
EEOC Fines Brooklyn Company $57,000 for Sexual Harassment of Rejected Employee
Recently the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency charged with enforcing federal employment discrimination laws, brought asexual harassment complaint against a Brooklyn-based employer after its chief executive allegedly demanded a female job applicant go out with him socially. The company agreed to settle the EEOC's allegations without a formal trial or admission of guilt.
According to the EEOC's complaint, the CEO interviewed the identified female job applicant for a position as a “service coordinator.” The CEO offered the applicant the job, but in the course of doing so, he suggested they have “dinner and drinks” and “party” together. The applicant declined the invitation, noting she wanted to “move forward in a strictly professional manner.”
The EEOC said the CEO then withdrew the job offer and, after interviewing several additional candidates, hired a “male applicant” for the service coordinator's position. The EEOC said the company also failed to “make and preserve” records of its hiring process, presumably to thwart the agency's investigation of the female applicant's sexual harassment complaint. All of this, the EEOC said, amounted to “unlawful employment practices” committed “with malice or with reckless indifference” to the rights of the rejected applicant.
Under its settlement with the EEOC, the CEO's company will pay $57,000 in damages to the rejected applicant. The company must also “adopt new anti-discrimination policies” and training programs to prevent another incident like this one in the future. Among other things, the company agreed not to condition any hiring decisions or other employment decisions, such as promotions or compensation, based on a person's “willingness to meet individually with the company's chief executive officer outside of the workplace.”
When Socializing Becomes Sexual Harassment
It is perfectly fine for a boss to meet with his or her employees socially or outside of normal working hours. When a single employee or potential employee is asked to see a boss or person with hiring authority in a social situation unrelated to work, that may constitute illegal sexual harassment. As the head of the EEOC's New York office bluntly put it in reference to the case above, “Employers cannot condition hiring or promotion on an employee's willingness to go out on a date.”
If you have been pressured to date a manager or co-worker, or have been denied employment opportunities as a result of rejecting such demands, you may be entitled to seek compensation under state and federal law. Do not hesitate to stand up for your rights. An experienced New York employment law attorney can assess your situation and help you decide what steps to take next. Contact the Law Offices of Mahir S. Nisar today in New York City or Long Island if you need legal advice today.