There are several avenues available when filing for sexual harassment in New York. It is important to be aware of the deadlines for filing the claim, as they differ for each agency. Individuals thinking about filing a sexual harassment claim are advised to consult an attorney to help determine the best course of action.
There are three administrative agencies an individual may file with: (1) the Equal Employment Opportunity Comnew yomission (EEOC), (2) New York State Division of Human Rights (State Division), and/or (3) the New York City Commission on Human Rights (City Commission).
Individuals may file a federal complaint, but must first file an administrative complaint with the EEOC. Filing with the EEOC is a mandatory requirement before filing in federal court. The EEOC does not award damages or conduct an actual hearing. Rather, the EEOC will simply investigate the matter. Among the factual determinations made by the EEOC is whether the claim has probable cause. Probable cause means “having more evidence that sexual harassment occurred than that it did not occur.” The EEOC will only investigate claims if the employer has more than 15 employees.
It is important to be aware of the deadlines for filing a sexual harassment claim in New York. A complaint to the EEOC must be filed within 300 days of the last date the sexual harassment occurred. Failure to file a timely claim will bar an individual from bringing a federal claim in court.
Filing with the EEOC does not preclude an individual from filing a State or City claim at the same time. Unlike the EEOC, State and City agencies will conduct a hearing before an administrative judge who may award damages. State and City agencies are notoriously backlogged, though, and it may take years for the claim to proceed to a hearing.
Filing a claim with the State or City
If the complaint alleges State or City claims, an individual has three (3) years from the date of the last sexual harassment event to file before the statute of limitations bars the claim. An individual filing an administrative charge with either the State Division or City Commission must do so within 1 year from the last date the sexual harassment occurred.
Complaints may also be filed with the Civil Rights Bureau of the Office of the Attorney General. The first step is to fill out a complaint form provided by the Civil Rights Bureau. The Bureau will then determine whether the claim demonstrates a pattern, practice or policy of sexual harassment. The Attorney General does not represent the individual directly, but instead, the People of the State of New York. Because of this, an individual will also have to file a claim with any of the following agencies: EEOC, NYS Division of Human Rights, or the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
The complaint should contain the same information, regardless of whether it is filed with a federal or state agency. All incidents of harassment should be detailed in the complaint, as well as why the actions were unwelcome. Moreover, the complaint should include the harasser’s relationship to the individual filing. Any coworkers or supervisors who witnessed the harassment should be listed as well. It is also important to include any attempts to notify office management of the conduct, and their response, if any. Finally, the complaint should mention the effect the harassment has had on the individual’s job performance.
Depending on the avenue pursued, an individual may have to pay a filing fee. There is a $350 fee for filing in federal court, and $210 fee for filing in State court. These fees only cover filing the complaint. Additional fees may be added if the case proceeds to trial. An individual who cannot afford these fees may seek a waiver. There is no charge for filing with an administrative agency.
Contact Castronovo and McKinney for a case review before filing for sexual harassment in New York and let us assist you on the right course of action. We offer a free consultation that is completely confidential.