It is against the law for an employer to deny you opportunities or benefits because of your gender. Sexual harassment is a type of gender discrimination, and is covered by federal, state and local laws. GELC provides free legal services to those who have been discriminated against because of their sex or gender in employment and education. If you believe your rights have been infringed because you are subjected to sexual harassment at work and wish to speak with someone from our legal team call our Hotline at (888) 833- 4363.

What is Sexual Harassment? 


There are two broad categories of harassment based on gender, neither of which is permitted in any form. The more obvious type is called quid pro quo harassment. This conduct usually occurs when an employer or supervisor offers to trade an employment benefit for some kind of sexual favor.


The more subtle and common type of sexual harassment is called a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment in the workplace is unwelcome gender-based hostility or the existence of a sexualized work environment on the basis of an employee’s gender. The harassment can create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment, or interfere with job performance. Actions are not necessary, verbal, physical or pictorial harassment can constitute sexual harassment. 


Despite these protections, sexual harassment victims still face tremendous hurdles in accessing and exercising their civil rights in the workplace. Often victims believe they must put up with or respond positively to the behavior to keep their job, get hired, or be promoted. 


New York State Law Prohibits All Forms of Gender Discrimination

Both quid pro quo and hostile work environment harassment are forbidden by New York state law. The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) protects workers from unlawful discrimination based on age, race, sexual orientation, gender, and many other personal characteristics. Since sexual harassment is a type of gender discrimination, it is covered by the NYSHRL. 


One benefit that the NYSHRL holds over federal legislation, which covers only employers with 15 or more employees, the state law applies to employers with even a single worker. This change is significant, since more than 60 percent of the New York State’s private employers have fewer than four employees. This ensures that more New York employees are protected from sexual harassment.


New York City Law Prohibits Discrimination on the Basis of Gender


Under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), gender-based harassment covers a broad range of conduct and occurs when an individual is treated less well on account of their gender. Gender-based harassment can include unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors; however, the harassment does not have to be sexual in nature.


Furthermore, gender-based harassment can be a single or isolated incident or repeated acts or behavior. Unlike the “severe or pervasive” standard in federal sexual harassment cases, while the severity or pervasiveness of the harassment is relevant to damages, the existence of differential treatment based on gender is sufficient under the NYCHRL to constitute a claim of harassment.

Employees are also protected against same-sex sexual harassment in the workplace which violates federal, New York State and New York City law. 

If you believe your rights have been infringed because you are subjected to sexual harassment at work and wish to speak with someone from our legal team call our Hotline at (888) 833- 4363.




The New York State Division of Human Rights' guidance on sexual harassment provides statutory requirements under New York Human Rights Law § 296.1 including guidelines on retaliation, effective sexual harassment policies and employer liability.

Guidance on the Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Expression 

The New York City Commission on Human Rights is the agency charged with enforcing the New York City Human Rights Law. The NYCHRL prohibits sexual harassment because it is a form of gender-based discrimination and/or sexual orientation discrimination.



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