Your Obligations If You Are the Victim of Harassment

It is common for victims of workplace harassment to feel like employers are not on their side. Some even fear retaliation for reporting offensive workplace conduct. This often leads suffering workers to forgo established workplace reporting procedures for harassment under the belief that informing the employer would do no good — and may even lead to negative consequences. However, not following such procedures can be fatal to an employment harassment claim.

Harassment laws encourage employers to have systems in place through which employees can comfortably report instances of harassment and hostile work environments. Moreover, an employer can minimize or avoid legal liability for such conduct by rapidly and effectively responding to any reports received via these channels. Nevertheless, too many harassed employees avoid their employers’ reporting procedures, choosing instead to react in other ways:

  • Complaining to the offending employee or a supervisor
  • Complaining to co-workers
  • Ignoring the harassment

A harassment victim who responds in any of these ways may have problems pursuing a lawsuit later. The law seeks to give employers an opportunity to remedy harassment before suffering liability for it. An employer who does not know about the harassment cannot take steps to stop it and cannot be blamed for allowing it. Many employers are able to avoid liability by arguing that they were reasonably unaware that harassment was occurring — or that they offered preventative or corrective opportunities and the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of them.

If you are the victim of on-the-job harassment or a hostile work environment in NYC, you are not alone. An experienced and compassionate New York employment discrimination attorney can help you understand your options and decide what to do next.


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