According to a Pew Research Centers survey, many Americans believe that the newfound focus on assault and sexual harassment poses challenges for women in the workplace. Both women and men are more open to coming out with their instances of sexual harassment. This is a result of the focus on sexual harassment through the #metoo movement.
The survey found that 59% of females and 27% of men suffered some form of physical or verbal harassment or other types of sexual advances during their lifetime. Among women who say they’ve been harassed, over half say it’s occurred in the workplace. Similarly, 46% of women believe that their claims of sexual harassment would not be taken seriously if they came forward with their story.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
If you bring forward a sexual harassment claim against your employer, you must prove either that there was either
- a hostile work environment or
- that quid pro quo harassment occurred.
You do not have to prove both. You must show that one or the other had occurred while you were working.
Furthermore, a hostile work environment is created when the employer’s conduct is so severe or pervasive that it makes it difficult for the victim to work because of the abuse. Accordingly, the severity or pervasiveness of the conduct is usually judged by the frequency, nature, and context of the situation.
For example, if your boss makes sexual jokes everyday, a jury may find that the conduct is pervasive enough to award damages. On the other hand, if your boss attempts sexually grope you, a jury may find that the conduct is severe enough to award damages.
On the other hand, quid pro quo harassment is easier to identify. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when your boss offers you some advantage at work in exchange for a sexual favor. For example, if an employer offers a raise in exchange for sex by an employee, then quid pro quo sexual harassment has occurred.
How Much Money Can I Receive For A Sexual Harassment Case
There are multiple different types of compensation (in legal terms, this is known as “damages”) that you can receive for your sexual harassment claim. These include back pay, front pay, emotional distress, and punitive damages.
If because you were sexually harassed your boss failed to promote you, give you a raise, or terminated you, you may be able to recover what is known as back pay. Back pay is essentially what you would have received up until the time trial is over.
Back pay includes:
- value of certain insurance benefits,
- vacation or paid time off, and
- retirement benefits
It is also important to note that the aggrieved employee must “mitigate” their damages. Otherwise, the court may lower the amount of back pay recoverable. Mitigating damages essentially means that the employer took steps to lower their losses. For example, if an employee is wrongfully terminated, he or she must still actively look for a new job.
The court will adjust back pay for employees who do not go out and look for a new job. However, if the employee cannot find a new job out of no fault of their own, he or she will not be penalized. If you are wrongfully terminated, make sure to fill out applications for new job through popular websites such as Indeed, Monster, and Ziprecruiter. This shows that even though you tried to find a new job, you are not able.
Front pay, unlike back pay, essentially compensates you for your future losses. Many times, employees want to return to their job after successfully winning their sexual harassment claim. Unfortunately, it is likely that the working environment is either too hostile or tense for to return. Alternatively, the position the employee once occupied may now be full. Therefore, a sexual harassment victim may be able to recover for front pay. Factors that determine how much front pay you can recover includes:
- Age: the older you are the more likely it is that you don’t have the skills necessary to find a competitive job due to new technology.
- The time it takes to find a new job. The more time it takes to find new employment, the more front pay you can receive. However, the employee must mitigate damages (see above).
- Length of previous employment. The longer you worked for the employer, the more likely your front pay will be larger.
Similar to back pay, the aggrieved employee must try to “mitigate” damages to receive front pay.
Compensatory and Punitive Damages
The last forms of damages a sexual harassment plaintiff can receive are what is known as compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages seek to put the damaged party in the position he or she would have occupied if not for the sexual harassment.
Under compensatory recovery, a plaintiff can recover for emotional distress (also known as “pain and suffering”). For example, a jury may put a monetary amount on the damages if the harassed employee suffers from:
- panic attacks,
- or other forms of distress
Punitive damages on the other hand seek to punish employers for especially egregious behavior. For example, a jury may award punitive damages to a harassed employee if the employer knew about it but does nothing. This can occur if the employee makes a formal complaint to human resources but the human resources manager does nothing about it. Usually if the employer acted with malice, oppression, or fraud then the employee will receive punitive damages.
We offer free consultations and you pay nothing unless we win.
The lawyers at Miracle Mile Law Group are specially trained in handling sexual harassment lawsuits. If you believe you have been or currently are a victim of sexual harassment, contact our sexual harassment attorneys today. These cases are very time sensitive so give us a call at (888) 244-0706 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation. Remember, we do not take a single dollar unless WE WIN!