The concept of ‘sexual harassment’ typically sparks an image of a big-wig boss making overt sexual advances on a young, naïve assistant. In this visual, the boss is male and the assistant is female. But, when the harasser is woman and the victim is a man, does it constitute sexual harassment? Yes, men can be sexually harassed at work and it is illegal. In fact, over the past 15 years, the reported incidents of female-on-male sexual harassment have doubled. Do not be afraid to speak with an attorney if your rights have been violated on the job.

A recent high profile New York case against public relations firm Open Communications was filed by a male executive assistant. Joseph Jackson, 41, claimed two female superiors, including his direct supervisor Sally O’Dowd, touched him inappropriately, and subjected him to a series of verbal come-ons over the course his seven month employment at the firm. One of the named plaintiffs, Katie Campisano, allegedly sent Jackson a text message, asking, “When are we going to have our bang sesh?”

Jackson was terminated on February 21st, after formally complaining about the behavior to company CEO John Morris. In his lawsuit, Jackson contends Morris actually witnessed some of the behavior and simply rolled his eyes.

What should you do if you are a man being sexually harassed?

It can be difficult for a man to speak up against harassment. It’s taboo, and men can be teased, taunted or demeaned for reporting inappropriate conduct by their female colleagues. In addition, the first sexual harassment case filed by a male was in 1995, making this a relatively new legal concept intimidating for men to pursue.

The key is to set personal boundaries. Tell your harasser you do not appreciate the behavior. If a female co-worker asks you for dates, make it clear you are not interested. Record all incidents, and keep evidence of the harassment. Uncomfortable situations should be reported to your manager and the Human Resources department. Severe situations should be brought to a New York sexual harassment attorney, who can help you evaluate your legal options.

The Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC handles a multitude of cases that involve sexual harassment in New York City. For further information, please feel free to call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation or email at