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Employee sues when fired after reporting sexual harassment


New York employees face a variety of challenges in the workplace. Long work hours, demanding bosses, unsafe work conditions and even sexual harassment all commonly confront employees in their efforts to make a living. While some of these challenges may be tough to remedy, at least there is legal recourse for employees facing sexual harassment.

A male massage therapist working for Google in New York has recently filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company. The massage therapist alleges that a company engineer who was receiving a massage at the workplace masturbated during the session. When the massage therapist complained to company officials about what happened, the massage therapist alleges that the company ultimately fired him. Prior to being fired, the massage therapist asserts that Google officials also wrote him up falsely and maliciously. Other potentially important facts in the lawsuit include that the massage therapist is gay and was replaced by a heterosexual female.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can occur in different ways. One type involves unwanted sexual advances by a supervisor or a coworker. This generally creates a hostile work environment for the victim of harassment. The range of behavior that falls into this category includes repeated requests for a date after already having been refused, repeated sexual advances, vulgar language or sexual jokes, inappropriate touching, unwanted flirting, etc.

Another type of sexual harassment is called quid pro quo. This type occurs when employment decisions are made on the basis of an employee's rejection of sexual advances or submission to them. These cases frequently involve situations where an employee was fired or not promoted after refusing advances, evaluated poorly after refusing or ending a romantic relationship, etc. Employees are protected from these actions under both federal and state laws, as well as the New York City Human Rights Law, which may hold employers strictly liable for the conduct.

Source: NJ.com, "Employee from New Jersey files sexual harassment suit against Google," Alex Napoliello, May 29, 2014

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