Both the Agency and federal, state, and local law prohibit sexual and other forms of harassment. Aside from the WNYIL’s internal complaint and investigation process, employees may choose to pursue legal remedies with the following governmental entities and may be entitled to remedies including: hiring or reinstatement, back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, emotional distress damages, punitive damages, fees and costs (including attorneys’ fees), or other equitable relief. Employers and/or perpetrators may also be liable for civil fines. In addition, if the alleged harassment involves physical touching, coerced physical confinement, or coerced sex acts, employees may also, but are not required to, report such conduct to local law enforcement.
New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR)
The NYSDHR enforces the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), codified at N.Y. Executive Law, art. 15, § 290 et seq., which protects employees and other covered individuals of New York State employers from sexual and other harassment and discrimination. Individuals may file a complaint, with or without legal representation, with:
- The NYSDHR within 1 year of the harassment
- (888) 392-3644
As an alternative to the NYSDHR, individuals may file a complaint in New York State Supreme Court within 3 years of the alleged unlawful conduct. Individuals may not file with the NYSDHR if they have already filed in state court, however.
Complaining internally will not extend the time to file a complaint with the NYSDHR or in state court.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Individuals may file a complaint with the EEOC, with or without legal representation within 300 days of the harassment.
- 1 (800) 669-4000 / 1-(800)669-6820 (TTY)
- If an individual files a complaint with the NYSDHR, the NYSDHR will file that complaint with the EEOC to preserve the individual’s right to proceed in federal court.
Many localities enforce laws protecting individuals from sexual harassment and discrimination. An individual should contact the county, city or town in which they live to find out if such a law exists.
Contact the Local Police Department
If the harassment involves physical touching, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime. Contact the local police department.