LIEB BLOG

How current events impact your business and real estate holdings

Monday, December 28, 2020

Employment Sexual Harassment - Case of Interest - Exceeding Petty Slights or Trivial Inconveniences

Back on October 11, 2019, the NYS Human Rights Law was modified with a new standard for actionable employment sex discrimination. The new standard was intended to align NYS more closely with the NYC Human Rights Law. 


The new standard is that conduct that exceeds "petty slights or trivial inconveniences" is actionable. 


As to what that means, the NYC law was interpreted by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal Court) in Mihalik v. Credit Agricole Cheuvreux North America, Inc., which is the leading case. 


Now, we have a leading case interpreting the NYS law as well by a State Court. 


On December 15, 2020, the NYS Appellate Division decided Franco v Hyatt Corp. and found the following allegations to constitute conduct that exceeds petty slights or trivial inconveniences:

  1. Supervisor made repeated sexual advances towards him, including reaching out to touch his face and holding his hand in an elevator while they were alone.
  2. Supervisor also initiated conversations that made him uncomfortable, telling him she had a "crush" on him, telling him she was single and twice inviting him to her home to repair "a hole" in her apartment. 
  3. Supervisor said she had a tattoo, adding that "You have to undress me to see it." 
  4. After victim rebuffed advances, supervisor brought him to the Human Resources manager's office to complain about his work product and that she solicited complaints about him from other coworkers.
Interestingly, this case involved a female harasser of a male subordinate. 

When we train the NYS / NYC Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Course to companies around the country, at sexualharassmenttrainingny.com, we always get push back to the concept that sexual harassment can be female on male. This case is a good reminder that everyone is protected from harassment at work. 





 

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