New York workers have broader protections against sexual harassment under New York laws than under federal law and have different deadlines that workers should be aware of to preserve their sexual harassment claims.

How are New York sexual harassment protections substantively different than federal protections?

  • New York state law provides greater protection and remedies for sexual harassment or assault in the workplace than federal law.
  • For example, while federal law prohibits sexual harassment only for employers with 15 or more employees, New York State law applies to all employers in the state, regardless of size, and New York City law generally applies to employers with four or more employees.
  • New York law provides for individual liability, meaning aggrieved employees can sue not just their employer but any individual who aided and abetted the wrongdoing.
  • New York law also protects independent contractors from sexual harassment, not just workers classified as employees as is the case under federal law.
  • Unlike federal law, both the New York State Human Rights Act and New York City Human Rights Law do not require a worker to show that harassment was “severe or pervasive” to state a claim under the laws. Language in the New York laws directs courts to construe the laws “liberally,” which means that courts often interpret the New York laws in a more worker-friendly way than federal law.
  • Finally, federal law caps an employee’s recovery of compensatory and punitive damages at $300,000, while New York law does not have a cap on what a worker who prevails on their claims can recover.

How can I report sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace in New York?

  • You have several avenues to report sexual harassment or sexual assault in New York.
  • If you suffered workplace sexual harassment or assault, you can report the misconduct to your employer.  New York State, New York City, and federal law all prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who file a complaint of sexual harassment.
  • Sometimes, filing an administrative complaint can help you resolve your claims with your employer without going to court.  In New York, however, you also are able to proceed directly to court without having an agency first investigate your allegations.
  • If you were sexually harassed or assaulted in New York City, you can file a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
  • If you were sexually harassed or assaulted in New York State, you can file a complaint with the New York Division of Human Rights.
  • If the harassment or assault occurred within the past 300 days, you can also file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

I was sexually harassed or assaulted a long time ago. Do I still have a claim in New York?

  • You might.
  • Under New York State and New York City law, you have three years to file a complaint of sexual harassment with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the New York State Division of Human Rights, or in court.  For coverage under federal law, a charge must be filed within 300 days of the sexual harassment.
  • But there are certain circumstances that can extend those deadlines.  You also may have related claims under different laws.  It is safest to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to learn whether you still have live claims.
  • If you were sexually assaulted in New York City because of your gender, the New York City Victims of Gender-Based Violence Protection Law opened up a “lookback” window that allows survivors with previously expired claims to proceed in court.  That window closes on March 1, 2025.
  • New York’s Adult Survivors Act (“ASA”), which allowed survivors to file previously expired claims for sexual assault, recently lapsed in November 2023.  Advocates are pushing to reopen the ASA window so more survivors can pursue justice.
  • If you were a victim of sex trafficking within the past ten years (or within ten years after your eighteenth birthday if the trafficking occurred while you were a child), regardless of whether that trafficking occurred in New York, you may also have a claim under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Where can I get more information about workplace sexual harassment in New York?

Contact Us

If you are experiencing or have experienced sexual harassment, contact Katz Banks Kumin to speak with one of our intake attorneys to discuss your case, without charge or further obligation.

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