For those who think sexual harassment is a female-only problem – think again.

A longshoreman at the Red Hook Pier filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court against his former boss amidst claims of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual conduct. In addition to suing his ex-boss, Sabato Catucci, the Plaintiff, Michael Sabella, filed suit against his union president Louis Pernice, who heads the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1814.

Our sexual harassment lawyers learned that a jury awarded Sabella $60,000 in punitive damages but let the union president off the hook.

Sabella worked for American Stevedore Inc. During his time at the Pier, Sabella alleges he was subjected to a hostile work environment. According to the lawsuit, his former supervisor physically assaulted Sabella.

“I was attacked,” Sabella testified. “He (the supervisor) went to grab my crotch and I pushed his hand away. He threw me over the desk and I couldn’t get out — he was strong.”

Catucci and his attorney deny the allegations. “At most there was a joking atmosphere which might occur in a men’s locker room,” argued Catucci’s lawyer Janine Bauer.

Sabella further claims the Union failed to help him, and the Waterfront Commission ignored his complaint.

Myths about sexual harassment debunked

Our Sexual Harassment lawyers have encountered countless clients who have heard mistruths about employment and harassment law.  As Sabella’s case, in particular, brings to light a few common misconceptions about sexual harassment law.

Myth: Only women can claim sexual harassment.

Reality: Anyone can be a victim of harassment – men, women, transgender, or any other sex/gender identity.

Myth: Men cannot sexually harass men.

Reality: Same-sex harassment by any sex or gender is unlawful.

Myth: Male-on-male sexual harassment can only occur if at least one person is gay.

Reality: When anyone is accused of sexual harassment in NYC, sexual orientation is somewhat irrelevant. While it can be a factor in the case, it doesn’t matter if Sabella or his supervisor are both homosexual, heterosexual, or a combination of the two in a sexual harassment case. In fact, even if one person claimed sexual orientation discrimination, the law covers “actual or perceived” orientation – meaning whether or not you are actually gay, straight, bisexual, or other orientation does not matter.

Is it sexual harassment in New York City if two men are involved?

Cases of male sexual harassment are on the rise. In fact, the number of sexual harassment charges filed by men to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission jumped from 11.6% in 1997 to 16.3% in 2011.

In New York City, both men and women can file complaints of sexual harassment against the same sex. Male-on-male harassment and female-on-female harassment may be compensable under the law. Even if you are a man who was harassed by a woman, you still may be entitled to compensation.

Do not hesitate to speak with an attorney if you believe you are the victim of discrimination or harassment.

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