Can a salon owner terminate me because her husband sexually harrassed me?

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Can a salon owner terminate me because her husband sexually harrassed me?

I work at a 4 chair salon as a booth renter. I had some previous problems with the owners husband sexually harrassing me. So we had an oral agreement that he was not allowed on the premises while I was there. Then 2 weeks later she told me that I needed to “get over it, because she needs her husband back at the salon”. A month later she is trying to find excuses to terminate me from booth renting so he can come back. The latest reason being “attitude”. What can I do?

Asked on June 9, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you have a written lease for your booth, you can enforce the terms of that lease--you can only be evicted at the end of the lease period, for nonpayment, for violating lease terms, for threatening your landlord (the salon owner) or damaging her property through more than simple carelessness, for disturbing the ability of other renters from using their booths, or otherwise as  allowed by the lease. She can't simply decide she does not want you there. And even if she claimed one or more of these things had happened, if you didn't agree or accept that, you could fight the eviction--she'd have to be able to prove her case in court.

On the other hand, if you don't have an oral lease, only a written one, you are a month-to-month tenant and she could terminate your tenancy on 30 days notice for any reason.

The laws that protect against sexual harassment in the workplace apply to employees, not independent contractors who rent booths...if you were an actual employee of hers, you'd have greater protection and possibly a legal claim.


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