Welcome to another episode of the New York Employment Law Show. This is a show that provides information to individuals in New York who have problems relating to their employment, who have real questions about discrimination, sexual harassment, or other employment related topics. The purpose of this show is to provide you with helpful information to allow you to get answers to your questions and hopefully, lead you to pursuing the right path, moving forward for your personal situation.
Today, we're going to talk about an interesting topic, which is what will people think, and what would their reaction be if you decide to pursue a claim arising out of your employment? This is mostly addressing people who have experienced some type of discrimination or sexual harassment in a work place. One of the concerns that we see very frequently is the concern about "what a legal claim is going to mean for me in the long term? What are people going to think? How is this going to reflect upon me and how is this going to hurt or limit my prospects moving forward in the future?"
The “Me Too" movement” has brought a lot of light to sexual harassment complaints in the course of employment. And one of the ways it has done that is by empowering people to come forward in a way that in the past would may not have been likely.
A common concern among people who are at home, dealing with these issues is the perception of others. "Are people going to perceive me as a money grabber? Is this going to hurt my employment possibilities?" The answer is that it really depends.
The reality is that a claim for sexual harassment is very personal. Filings in court are a matter of public record. That does not mean that if you contact a lawyer for a sexual harassment or a discrimination case it is automatically going to be on the front page of the newspaper. What it means is that there are certain strategies that can be taken which will either be more likely to result in a quiet resolution, or would be more likely to result in a very public situation.
We adapt those strategies depending upon the needs and desires of the client. Some clients want to put themselves out as the face of a particular movement or situation, while others say: “you know what, I just want to resolve this. I want to make a point, but I don't want to be the face of this.” Because of that, we take different steps to try to ensure that it is kept quiet, if need be. It is a personal decision to you, but you should know that there are different avenues and different options available depending upon your personal desires and your personal beliefs.
The same holds true with the question of how is this going to affect your employment prospects long term. If you have a quiet resolution of an employment discrimination or a sexual harassment complaint, it is less likely that a future employer would find out about it. If, however, you have a case that is flashed in a headline or that is all over social media or is in some way made a matter of public interest, then the reality is that some employers are probably going to see that.
One of the things that employers do these days is search Google, and if you have a public case, they may find it and it may impact them one way or the other. The issue is that you don't know how that's going to impact them. Lots of employers nowadays would be proud to have somebody on their staff who stood up for themselves after a sexual harassment or employment discrimination situation. Others are more conservative and maybe not be so inclined. You don't really know the answer to that until you go down that path. And the decision is one that is very personal. So, if these are the things that you're thinking about, our best advice is to reach out to a qualified employment attorney and talk through the options before taking any action.
We see far too many examples of law firms who wanted to just dive deep into a public situation where we question whether the interests of the client are really being put first. You can rest assured that is not how we approach things. We take a very client centric approach, so if you have questions about these issues and you want to talk with someone who would look out to your best interests, feel free to contact us today by filling out the contact form on this page.
Scott M. Peterson is the founding partner of D'Orazio Peterson, having left a partnership at a large regional law firm to limit his practice and focus on exclusively representing individuals in a small number of employment and serious injury/medical malpractice matters. Scott's favorite part of practicing law is getting in front of a jury and standing up for an individual against a large company or institution.
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