If It Happens to You, Report It: Victims of Sexual Harassment Can Get Justice in NYC

NYC Human Rights
4 min readOct 12, 2017


A woman is approached by her supervisor and asked out on a date for the fourth time since she has started her job, this time with the caveat that “prudes don’t get promotions.”

A salesperson is repeatedly harassed by co-workers with comments about her physical appearance: “Hey sexy!” “Why don’t you dress that way more often?” “The things I would do to you!” Even her female supervisor participates. She reports the comments to Human Resources, but nothing happens.

An office worker is repeatedly touched on the shoulder, hugged, and once groped by his supervisor. After he reports the incident, he gets fired.

These are just some common scenarios of sexual harassment in the workplace. Thankfully, New Yorkers have a powerful tool to fight back — the NYC Human Rights Law. Here, it is illegal under the NYC Human Rights Law to sexually harass someone in the workplace, in housing, and in public accommodations like stores and restaurants.

Victims can report sexual harassment to the NYC Commission on Human Rights here


New York City is home to one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the nation, the NYC Human Rights Law, which protects New Yorkers against discrimination based on gender, which includes sexual harassment. For example, it is illegal in NYC for employers, landlords, or service providers to:

· inappropriately touch employees, tenants, or customers for any reason

· threaten to ruin an employee’s career after they refuse a sexual advance

· repeatedly make lewd or sexual comments about an employee’s appearance, body, or style of dress

· fire, fail to promote, or treat employees, tenants, or customers less well because of their gender

· refuse service to anyone because of their gender

· retaliate against employees, tenants, or customers in any way after they report harassment

The NYC Commission on Human Rights enforces that Law and can hold violators accountable with penalties of up to $250,000. The Commission can also assess emotional distress damages and other remedies to the victim without limit.


Anyone who lives in, works in, or visits New York City can file a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights if they are sexually harassed or discriminated against based on a protected category under the Law by calling 718–722–3131 or by visiting NYC.gov/HumanRights and filling out an online complaint form.

For an overview of their process, check out the Commission’s “How To File a Complaint” video below.

NYC Commission on Human Rights: How to File a Complaint Video


Victims of sexual harassment often feel that reporting harassment will hurt their careers, alienate co-workers, or harm their families. But by reporting sexual harassment to the Commission, victims can help hold violators accountable and stop future acts of harassment and discrimination. The Commission regularly helps courageous New Yorkers who come forward get justice under the Law and holds perpetrators accountable. In fact, investigations into gender discrimination in the workplace increased by nearly 30 percent in 2016.

Here are some examples of recent settlements by the Commission in this area:

· Negotiated a $12,500 settlement for a maintenance worker after her supervisor harassed her with sexually explicit comments.

· Awarded a victim $35,000 in damages after she was fired for reporting sexual harassment.

· Levied the largest civil penalty in Commission history — $250,000 — in a sexual harassment case involving an employee who was sexually harassed by her boss over three-year period, including groping, lewd sexual comments, and humiliation in front of colleagues.

All New Yorkers deserve to live and work with respect, safety, and dignity. Sexual harassment is NEVER okay, and victims don’t have sit back and accept it. If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual harassment, report it. Even if you wish to remain anonymous, the Commission encourages victims to file a complaint so it can look into the matter. The Commission can initiate its own investigation into an alleged offender without needing a formal complaint from a victim.


· Women in NYC Harassment Fact Sheet in English, Spanish, Urdu, Chinese, Arabic, Bengali, Korean, Haitian Creole, Polish, and French: A quick look at examples of harassment and instructions on how to contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights if harassment occurs.

· Women in NYC Brochure in English, Spanish, Urdu, Chinese, Arabic, Bengali, Korean, Haitian Creole, Polish, and French: An in-depth look at areas of protection, such as pregnancy, gender, or presence of children, that disproportionately affect women.



NYC Human Rights

The New York City Commission on Human Rights is charged with educating on and enforcing the City Human Rights Law. Combating discrimination since 1955.