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Dealing with Sexual Harassment in a Small Business

Working for a small company has its advantages – things are sometimes more laid back, you feel like a person instead of just a number, and you often form close personal bonds with your co-workers. Unfortunately, there are also drawbacks to working for a small company. In addition to the reduced benefits and lack of opportunity you might encounter, small business culture can be very different from that of a large corporation.

When you experience difficulties, such as harassment or discrimination in the workplace, you might not have the same resources at your disposal to protect you. Some federal laws regarding discrimination and harassment apply only to large companies. This means you do not have the same protection working for a small business that you would in a large company. oHow does this affect a situation related to sexual harassment and what should you do if you feel you are being harassed?

What Should I Do If I Experience Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

First, realize you have other options and resigning your position as soon as possible might be your safest and best choice. Finding a job can be challenging, but if you are working for a company that tolerates this sort of behavior, it is not a place you want to work. Your resignation does have legal implications so prior to resigning, you should speak with an attorney.

To determine if you are working for a company that is tolerant of sexual harassment in the workplace, you must speak to a supervisor or “higher-up” in the company. This can be very uncomfortable when working for a small business because of the close nature of co-workers or a lack of an HR department. And if the person harassing you is the ultimate authority on such matters, you can assume sexual harassment is part of the company culture and that you have no choice but to eventually move on.

What are My Legal Options If I am a Victim of Sexual Harassment?

Your legal options are hinged on the number of employees working for the company. If there are 15 or more, you are protected by federal discrimination and sexual harassment laws. If nothing is done after you have reported the behavior, you can file a charge with the EEOC. Eventually, you’ll have the option of filing a lawsuit.

If there are fewer than 15 employees in the company, EEOC investigations are not an option. In New York, you have access to the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) and those working in New York City have the option of speaking to the New York City Commission on Human Rights (CHR). You might also be able to file a civil lawsuit against the individual or company, depending on the specific details of the situation.

Regardless of your situation and what resources you have at your disposal, you should speak to a New York employment attorney if you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment. An experienced employment lawyer can review your case, answer your questions, and give you advice on how to proceed. In most cases, the process of fighting back will be complicated, so you want someone on your side that is familiar with the law and able to assist you with various aspects of building your case.

if you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment, you have a right to take action. Contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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