High profile cases expose the lurking specter of sexual harassment

"Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh"

Mark 13:35

At one time or another, we all face a day of reckoning. When it comes, the giants have the farthest to fall.

From superstars of the court and the gridiron to titans of the board room, it has become all too common for those in positions of power to lose themselves in a cloak of perceived invulnerability. And yet, countless members of this storied elite have fallen low to those they never thought would stand up, fight back, refuse to swallow the bitter pill of harassment. Some of the most high-profile sexual harassment cases represent not only a precipitous fall from grace for the perpetrators, but vindication for those who refused to accept the mantle of "victim."

High profile sexual harassment cases have emerged in sports, business and medicine

Isiah Thomas had a long and storied career in professional basketball, included a run as an executive and head coach for the New York Knicks. But, a darker part of his legacy is the legendary sexual harassment case filed against him in 2007. Anucha Browne Sanders, an executive working for the Knicks under Thomas, alleged that over the course of two years, the head coach engaged in a pattern of verbal abuse and sexual harassment. After filing a formal complaint, Ms. Sanders was fired. New York City has strong laws to protect victims of sexual harassment, and ultimately, a jury awarded Ms. Sanders $11.6 million in damages.

Another of the most high-profile sexual harassment cases in recent memory followed a familiar storyline, but this time the backdrop was the business world rather than a pro-sports franchise. Carla Ingraham, a former sales assistant with financial services firm UBS, complained about the repeated sexual advances and sexual comments made by her supervisor, and was subsequently let go. While UBS claimed to have a strict prohibition on retaliation against workers who filed harassment complaints, a jury sided with Ms. Ingraham in the 2011 case, awarding $10.6 million.

Even the professional fields are not free of the demon of sexual harassment. In what was perhaps the largest verdict ever for a single plaintiff in a sexual harassment case, physician's assistant Ani Chopourian alleged that Mercy General Hospital doctors relentlessly asked her for sexual favors. When she pleaded with her supervisor to intervene, she got laughter as a response. The 2012 case resulted in a jury award of $168 million.

If you have been sexually harassed, get in touch with a lawyer and fight back

Sexual harassment is an ugly, demeaning reality in far too many American workplaces. If you have been sexually harassed in the course of employment in New York City, your case may not have the same type of public exposure or multimillion dollar verdicts as those mentioned above. Yet, in every instance of sexual harassment, the problem will only grow like a cancer unless someone finds the courage to stand up to his or her harassers.

New York City law is the best protection for victims of sexual harassment. If you have been sexually harassed, get the compensation you deserve, and help ensure that others are not similarly targeted in the future: take legal action with the help of a lawyer experienced in the nuances of New York City sexual harassment law.