Employer Defense Against Sexual Harassment Claims
Sexual harassment accusations against Governor Cuomo began with one allegation. Subsequently, a second aide added her own allegation to the first, and now a third woman has come forward with her own story alleging sexual harassment against the governor.
Legal Proceedings to Address the Case
Governor Cuomo formally referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office, which would enable an investigation with subpoena power. He stated that he wanted a thorough and independent review that was above reproach and political interference. For this reason, he requested a qualified private lawyer to do an independent review of the sexual harassment allegations.
New York’s Recently Passed Sexual Harassment Law
As a result of the New York sexual harassment law passed in 2019, the federal standard of “severe or pervasive” no longer applies when bringing a sexual harassment claim. Previously, the plaintiff had to prove that the sexual harassment was severe. Or, the plaintiff had to prove that the harassment took place over an extended period of time, making it pervasive.
An article published by the American Bar Association explains the nuances of the recent law. Under the recent law, sexual harassment examples would include unwelcome sexual advances, sexually motivated physical contact, requests for sexual favors or other physical or verbal conduct or communication that was sexually motivated. It the conduct interferes with work performance or creates an offensive work environment, then it also would be sexual harassment. A single instance might be sufficient to rise to the level of sexual harassment.
Affirmative Defense Against Sexual Harassment Allegations
To avoid liability for sexual harassment, a defense attorney must prove that the “harassing conduct does not rise above the level of what a reasonable victim of discrimination with the same protected characteristic would consider petty slights or trivial inconveniences.”
Consult with an Experienced Employment Law Attorney
If you have questions or concerns regarding harassment or other employment law issues, Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C. can provide you with experienced legal guidance. Call (718) 275-6500 to arrange an appointment.