“In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone. But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn,” commented New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in his resignation speech last week. According to his response, the 11 sexual harassment allegations brought up against him were not his own misconduct, but, rather, the result of “generational and cultural shifts” that he was unable to keep pace with. The sentiment of his speech illustrates a willful ignorance of appropriate behavior towards women in the workplace.
The Noble Law’s managing partner, Laura Noble, commented, “I have been in the workforce since 1990 and, like so many of us, have experienced sexual harassment. Even as a new lawyer, I knew that it was unacceptable to be touched without my consent. The “line” was, and is, very clear and you know this. The only thing that has changed is that more of us are willing to speak truth to power and more of you are finally suffering the consequences of your behavior.”
The definition of sexual harassment is not the moving target Governor Cuomo paints it to be. Under federal law, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual conduct towards a coworker or a subordinate. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the employer to protect their employees from the unwanted sexual advances of third parties, such as customers, clients, vendors, and other non-employees. Sexual harassment can include:
- Inappropriate comments about someone’s body or appearance
- Gender- or sexual orientation-based slurs
- Vulgar, offensive, or explicit jokes (even if they are not aimed at you specifically)
- Sending sexual emails, texts, or other messages
- Staring, glancing, or excessive eye contact
- Asking personal questions of a sexual nature
- Implying that your job position depends on your response to a sexual advance
Sexual harassment is determined by the thoughts and feelings of the recipient, not the moral compass of the individual committing the harassment, and this determination does not change if the victim did not immediately say “no” while being harassed.
Are You Experiencing Sexual Harassment?
If you experience sexual harassment in your workplace, fighting for your rights not only helps you but others who face the same mistreatment. At The Noble Law, our employment attorneys take advocacy seriously, standing up for marginalized people in New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Contact The Noble Law today to schedule a consultation and discuss your rights.