Do I have a claim for sexual descrim. against a deep-pocket client who sexually harassed me?

Asked over 1 year ago - New York, NY

Do I have a claim for sexual descrim. against a deep-pocket client who sexually harassed me and then severed our contract when I refused his overtures?

Additional information

I agreed in writing to organize and promote a newly created nonprofit foundation for its president, a young and wealthy trust-fund kid in Manhattan. He said lots of dirty jokes during our meetings. Referred to "dating me." Specifically told me, "don't ever sue me for sexual harassment." Each time, I made it very clear his comments were unprofessional and not appreciated. Until one day he accelerated the work due deadlines and asked me for all my work product ahead of schedule. He then claimed that "the organization doesn't have any more money to pay you." Since he was the organization's sole donor and funded everything, it was very clear to me that by refusing his overtures, he decided to cancel my contract. There was never any comment about my work or that he ever had a problem with it.

Attorney answers (7)

  1. Michael J. Schewe

    Contributor Level 9

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Depending on the facts of the situation, you may have legal claims available. I recommend speaking with an employment attorney soon to preserve your rights.

  2. Jeffrey Bruce Gold

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It doesn't sound as if you were an employee, but rather were in independent contractor. Accordingly, you don't have a sexual discrimination claim. That said, the right attorney will take your case, and file a breach of contract/intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, which will absolutely cause the client to sit up, take notice, and likely open up his wallet. It will be your word against his but my guess is it won't be too hard to find corroborating witnesses. You can be certain that this jerk did the same thing with others. Please read my disclaimer

    If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore,... more
  3. Peter Douglas Valenzano

    Contributor Level 9

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . More information is needed to assess the merits of any claim against the potential defendant in this matter.

    You reference a contract with the individual. Certainly, a competent employment attorney will want to review that document. Generally, there are two types of sexual harassment cases - hostile work environment and quid pro quo. More information is needed to determine which one applies. Please be advised that their are administrative requirements before proceeding with a sexual harassment case. You will need to file an eeoc charge within 180 days of the termination of your employment. The EEOC will conduct it's own investigation. They may issue what is called a right to sue letter - and thereafter, you will have a very limited window in which you can file a complaint.

    A few questions: were you an employee of the individual who harassed you or were you in a contractual relationship (providing services and paid as an independent contractor?) Was this individual your supervisor? Did you ever voice an objection to the conduct in writing or to your the human resources department (if applicable?)

    I highly suggest reaching out to an employment attorney as soon as possible.

  4. Eric Edward Rothstein

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You don't give any facts.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases.... more
  5. Arthur H. Forman

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If you were working with a written contract, alot will depend on whether you were legally an employee, or you had your own consulting business which he paid. I recommend that you consult with an employment lawyer to review the written contract and discuss the actual work conditions you experienced.

  6. Harry N. Konst

    Contributor Level 12

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You may wish to read the recent Salamon case, whereby the court opened the door to claims from independent contractors:

    http://www.insidecounsel.com/2008/05/01/indepen...

  7. Denise Kingue-Bonnaig

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . We are sorry to hear that you are in this situation. You may have a claim for sexual harassment and gender discrimination under the City Human Rights Law if you performed your work within one of the five boroughs of New York City. There is good case law under the City Human Rights Law holding that independent contractors fall under the protection of the City Human Rights Law, if they are natural persons who carry out work in furtherance of an employer’s business enterprise.

    You should seek a consultation with an experienced employment lawyer ASAP, who will evaluate whether the organization has the minimum number of employees or independent contractors to be subject to the City Human Rights Law, and then advise you on the best way to gather witness statements and other evidence in support of your allegations. Once this is done, said lawyer will advise you on whether it makes sense to go straight to court and file a lawsuit, or perhaps file a charge with an administrative agency first.

    If it turns out that the organization doesn’t have the minimum number of individuals to be subject to the City Human Rights Law, you may still have a case under a certain federal statute, which prohibits harassment in a contractual relationship, under specific circumstances.

    -Denise K. Bonnaig, Esq.
    212-374-1511

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