Unwanted Physical Contact

Unwanted physical contact can create a claim for sexual harassment in the workplace. Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964and state laws prohibit this conduct. It is important to remember that those who commit unwanted physical contact and sexual harassment usually intend to make the victim feel bad. This conduct is not about sex; it is about power and control. Unwelcome physical contact can include:

  • Patting, petting, or stroking
  • Fondling, kissing, groping
  • Blocking someone’s movements or escape
  • Physical assault
  • Attempted rape or rape
  • Coerced sexual activity

Federal Unwanted Physical Contact Claims in Employment Law

Federal law also prohibits sexual harassment, and unwanted physical contact can be a significant factor in such a claim. The unwanted physical contact – which may include groping or forced sex acts – can be sufficient to create a hostile work environment. The harasser can be:

  • Victim’s supervisor
  • Supervisor in another area
  • Coworker
  • Client or customer

New York Unwanted Physical Contact Law

New York prohibits sexual harassment and includes unwanted touching or groping, as well as forced sex acts, as acts of harassment. Both the State and the City have statutes relating to this and covering smaller businesses than federal law. Women, men, and third parties in the workplace are all covered. The harasser can be of the same sex or sexual orientation as the victim. A third party’s claim comes from the emotional stress caused by observing the unwanted physical contact between others. Some of these physical contacts can constitute criminal acts. 

Employer’s Duty

Employers should engage in frequent and thorough training regarding physical contact between employees. There should also be company policies that prohibit inappropriate physical contact. If an employer knows or should have known about ongoing unwanted physical contact and does not act to prevent or end it, the employer can be held liable for damages for that employee’s conduct. 

Call a New York Employment Attorney Today

If you believe that you have been harassed or subjected to unwanted touching at work, call A.Y.G., PLLC today. To schedule your free case evaluation with an employment discrimination lawyer in New York, call our office today at 646-201-8625 or contact us online.