Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue and must be dealt with as such. Sexually harassing someone on the job is against the law. If you are enduring a hostile work environment because you are being sexually harassed, if you have been forced to quit your job because you can no longer tolerate such harassment, or if you have been fired for lodging a sexual harassment complaint against your company, you may be able to file an employment lawsuit seeking monetary damages and other relief in the civil justice system.
Experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace can cause significant emotional pain and trauma to victims. If you have complained about harassment and are not seeing an appropriate response from your employer, it is crucial that you contact an experienced Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer who can provide you with additional options.
What acts result in sexual harassment settlements?
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. In addition, it applies to employment agencies, labor organizations and the federal government.
Sexual harassment includes a range of behaviors including making unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment is essentially conduct that explicitly or implicitly has an impact on a person's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's ability to perform his or her job, or creates a hostile or offensive work environment.
In sexual harassment cases, the victim or harasser may be a man or a woman. In fact, the victim does not even have to be part of the opposite sex. The harasser may be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a colleague or even a non-employee such as a visitor or a client. The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but simply anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Also, the harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.
How is a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settled?
Most people are surprised to learn that a majority of sexual harassment cases don't actually go before a jury, but are settled out of court. This happens for a number of reasons. Often, all parties involved want to avoid the time and costs associated with such legal proceedings. Also, the outcome of a court case can be challenging to predict. For plaintiffs, a settlement provides the security of monetary payment. In addition, a settlement helps victims avoid the trauma or embarrassment of publicly testifying. Employers also don't want to risk their image by going in for a public trial, which is likely to receive a lot of media attention and public scrutiny.
What damages can be recovered?
In sexual harassment settlements, if the case is settled in the plaintiff's favor, he or she receives damages for the losses sustained as a result of the harassment. Here are some of the most common types of damages that plaintiffs receive in workplace sexual harassment lawsuits:
Back pay: Employees receive back pay in cases where they lost their jobs or were wrongfully/illegally terminated because of sexual harassment. Back pay refers to wages, benefits and other types of compensation the employee would have earned from the time of the negative employment decision up to the date of a jury award or judgment. Back pay includes wages (including raises), bonuses, tips, commissions, vacation or sick pay, retirement or pension benefits, stock options and the value of any benefits such as health insurance or life insurance.
Front pay: This refers to payments to the plaintiff between the time the case is settled and when the employee returns to work, or is reinstated. In some cases where reinstatement is not possible because the job is no longer available, front pay calculation is based on future potential earnings. Calculations will take into account the age of the plaintiff, potential future wages and benefits and seniority at his or her previous job.
Punitive damages: These types of damages are usually intended as punishment for reckless and deliberate actions on the part of the defendant that led to the plaintiff's losses. For example, if the plaintiff can prove that the employer knew about ongoing sexual harassment, but did very little or nothing to change the company's culture or toxic work environment, that could be viewed as intentional or egregious conduct. A jury typically decides whether or not to award punitive damages based on the evidence presented in court.
Attorneys' fees: In some cases, plaintiffs may also be able to receive reimbursement for attorneys' fees. Most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they won't get paid unless their clients win. Our law firm offers a no-win-no-fee guarantee, which means you don't pay us fees unless we recover compensation for you.
Why victims don't have to fear retaliation
One of the major reasons why women do not come forward when sexual harassment occurs is that they genuinely fear retaliation and retribution. Harassment typically involves a power dynamic where the victim could be afraid of losing their job or even their career. This kind of risk can sometimes hinder someone's decision to come forward with a complaint. This is another reason why having a support system comprising family members, friends and colleagues is so important when coming forward.
However, employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against employees who file sexual harassment complaints. Those who report harassment are protected from adverse employment actions. This means you cannot be fired or demoted just because you reported the harassment.
Obtaining Maximum Compensation
Sexual harassment settlements can be challenging and intimidating. If you plan to file a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit or are contemplating it, the most important step you can take is to promptly contact an experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer who has had a successful track record of handling workplace sexual harassment cases. At Kingsley & Kingsley, we have nearly four decades of experience fighting and winning on behalf of wronged workers in California. Call us at 888-500-8469 for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.