Sexual harassment in the workplace can be one of the most harrowing situations to suffer through. You may not be believed and your complaints may fall on deaf ears. Managers or Human Resources figures may not treat your claim with any attention and they may ignore you. You could even be wrongfully terminated or dismissed from your job for making a claim. It is important that you do not give up if you have been sexually harassed at work. You can fight back and take legal action. Our law firm, the California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group, can take on your sexual harassment lawsuit and ensure that you are fairly treated by your employer.
Laws Against Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment laws generally consist of wording that says that people cannot be mistreated because of their sex. At a California state level, the following is written into the Fair Employment and Housing Act:
Title 2, Division 3, Part 2.8, Chapter 6, Article 1, 12940. (j) (4) (C) It is unlawful to harass an employee … because of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status…For purposes of this subdivision, “harassment” because of sex includes sexual harassment, gender harassment, and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Sexually harassing conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire.
There are other protected classes in California, including protection from discrimination based on gender, marriage, prior history of sexual assault, HIV/AIDS victimhood, gender identity, gender expression, and more.
Further, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals from discrimination and mistreatment based on sex. Employers cannot hire, fire, deny pay, or otherwise discriminate against individuals because of their sex or gender.
It is thus illegal on both Federal and State levels to sexually harass individuals at work, and if you were targeted or mistreated, you could take appropriate legal action.
Forms of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can be described as any unwarranted sexual activity carried out by one person to another person. The receiving individual must not have wanted the advances to occur. Sexual harassment can be verbal or physical; you do not need to be touched in order to be sexually harassed. Some types of sexual harassment include:
- Suggestive, insulting, lewd, or derogatory remarks, jokes, statements, slurs, discussions, questions, and conversations
- Unwanted or unwarranted touching or groping, like rubbing the neck, holding on to your waist, holding your hand, slapping you or patting you on the butt, intentionally brushing against you when passing, holding your hair, hugging you, and more
- Requests or propositions for sex, favors, lewd photos, nude videos, and others
- Raunchy or lewd conversation regarding sex or asking intimate or private questions
- Requesting a trade of employment, insurance benefits, perks, promotions, additional bonuses, and more for sex
- A statement to eliminate or reduce your benefits, wages, earnings, benefits, or other employment conditions if you do not go along with the sexual favors
- Wrongful firing due to your complaint about the harassment
- Staring at you, leering, making lecherous gesture, and other actions that might cause you to become uncomfortable
- Displays of sexually suggestive pictures, cartoons, shows, videos, and more in full view
- Unwarranted pictures sent to your phone or email of the harasser in sexual positions or partaking in sexual actions
- Sexual assault, rape, or other forcible acts taking place at the workplace, in the parking lot, and more
There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace. The first is known as quid pro quo harassment, which means “something for something” or “this for that.” There must be some kind of exchange or request for something, as a trade for sex, sexual favors, sexual actions, and more. This form of harassment can only be carried out by a superior and an underling. That is, a boss can engage in quid pro quo harassment with someone he hired, but coworkers with no authority over each other cannot engage in quid pro quo harassment.
These three points must be proven in quid pro quo sexual harassment claims:
- The worker was the recipient of unwelcome sexual requests, statements, advances, demands, and similar actions
- The sexual advances or actions were carried out by a superior of some kind (it is important to understand that the superior does not necessarily need to be a direct superior, but anyone with a higher level of authority)
- If the employee denied the requests, there must have been some form of retaliation or mistreatment stemming from the denial, which may include wrongful termination, demotion or a reduction of rank, denial of a promotion, defamation, blacklisting, loss of income, docked pay, reduced hours, and more
The second form of sexual harassment in the workplace is simply a hostile workplace environment claim. The harassment must disrupt the workplace and create an offensive atmosphere, making it difficult for the individual to complete his or her duties.
There are also three points that must be proven for hostile workplace environment claims. They are as follows:
- The employee was the recipient of unwelcome actions, advancements, statements, conduct, and more
- The harassment pertained to the sex or gender of the employee
- The harassment was serious enough to affect the worker’s employment conditions, working capabilities, or conduct, and created a hostile or offensive workplace
The sexual harassment also must not have only occurred once. It must be ongoing or must have been carried out numerous times. It must not be trivial or minor.
A key point about hostile workplace environment harassment claims is that they do not necessarily have to be carried out by the victim. If you were a bystander and you witnessed the harassment happen or you were constantly around when someone was sexually mistreated, you could file a sexual harassment claim, citing a hostile workplace environment.
How to File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Many victims of sexual harassment do not understand how to file a lawsuit or do not gather the necessary evidence when they can. Ideally, you will have a slew of evidence – sexual harassment is rarely a one-time occurrence, and it often occurs for weeks or months at a time. This can allow you to build a strong case against the coworker or the company.
You will need to do the following if you plan to file a sexual harassment lawsuit:
- Acquire numerous pieces of evidence of the harassment by taking pictures, recording statements that the harasser made, printing out copies of text messages or emails, taking videos of the harassment, getting security camera footage showing the mistreatment, and more
- Keep a journal in which you detail the harassment, the dates it happened, what transpired, who was involved, where it occurred, and more
- Inquire coworkers, eyewitnesses, and other individuals if they are willing to contribute statements and testimonies to your claim so that your lawsuit will be bolstered; if enough individuals were also harassed, you could potentially create or join a class action lawsuit, which would allow all the plaintiffs to pool their evidence in one claim against the company, but the total compensation will be split among everyone if the case is a success
- File a complaint with the Human Resources department at your company and make copies of the report, as well as any emails and exchanges that occurred between you and the department. The department should be aware that the harassment happened or that you complained about it.
- File a motion with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to launch an investigation into the harassment
- Do not accept any offers, promotions, hush money, benefits, vacation time, or other forms of compensation to try and convince you to abandon the claim, withdraw your statements, and more
It will be in your best interest to hire an experienced sexual harassment lawyer to move forward with your case. If you have never taken legal action before or if you are not knowledgeable about harassment laws, you may not be well equipped to move forward with your case. You could lack the time as well, especially if you are struggling to work elsewhere to pay bills and debts.
Our attorneys can take on your case for you. We will hire expert witnesses to testify on your behalf, gather and organize all of your evidence, write the demand letter that will be sent to the company, and negotiate a fair settlement from the insurance agency. Our goal is to ensure that you are covered from start to finish. You should not worry about legal recourse and increase your stress levels if you can help it. Our law firm is here to assist you.
Sample Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Verdicts and Settlements
Often times, individuals will ask us what the value of a sexual harassment lawsuit is or what the average compensation for a sexual harassment claim can be. In truth, there is no easy answer to that question, as every case is different and has varying circumstances. The same mistreatment and end result of a job can result in different amounts of compensation, as determined by your age, career type, and more. We have provided some sample settlements below that illustrate what can potentially be earned. A lot of sexual harassment cases end up settling for more than $20,000, but there are some that yield millions of dollars in restitution. Others, though, may not bring forth anything. It is important that you speak with an attorney to get an estimate of how likely your case will be and whether or not you will be eligible to win a large settlement. Bear in mind, too, that a verdict handed out in court will greatly depend on the judge’s or the jury’s discretion.
- $168 million settlement: A woman employed as a surgical physician’s assistant filed a lawsuit against a hospital, Catholic Healthcare West, because she was mistreated while at work. She complained of sexual harassment and general harassment, resulting in wrongful termination. She was told inappropriate remarks by other employees, was inappropriately approached, was subject to unwanted sexual advances, and more. She issued a complaint internally, but her claim was dismissed, and her boss stated that she was making false accusations. The victim was then defamed, disciplined, and fired. She was awarded a large settlement due to the perpetual mistreatment by other employees and the deliberate mishandling of the situation by her superior.
- $40 million settlement: A woman was working at a body shop as a customer service representative. A coworker eventually began to intentionally touch her in inappropriate areas against her wishes. The woman rejected all advances but the coworker carried on, eventually sexually assaulting her numerous times, including once in the restroom. He had held her down and masturbated over her while she was unable to leave. The victim filed a complaint, spoke to multiple managers, and tried to get the coworker fired or herself moved, but to no avail. Her fear for her safety eventually led her to resign after she was denied promotions and mistreated further. Her settlement was awarded to her after the attorneys showed gross negligence on behalf of all parties.
- $3.5 million settlement: A woman was working at a law firm when a fellow attorney began to mess with her. The partner engaged in sexual harassment, which included uninvited advances, inappropriate touching, and lewd remarks. She was emotionally distraught from the incidents, which never ceased. The other partners at the firm turned a blind eye to the mistreatment, commenting on how he had behaved that way in the past. The victim eventually filed a lawsuit with the EEOC and sought compensation. It was revealed during the investigation that other women were affected, and the settlement was swiftly awarded.
- $8 million verdict: A class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of seven separate female plaintiffs, some of whom still worked at the company, citing sexual harassment and many other mistreatments from the employer. He denied them wages and fired some because they spoke out about the harassment. They layered their claim by stating that the department was also engaged in illegal activities, which influenced their behavior. The women were granted the verdict of $8 million, which resulted in a little more than $1 million per plaintiff.
If you notice similarities between these settlements and your own, you can see what you could potentially earn, but do not automatically believe that the case will result in a huge settlement. Our goal is to secure you every penny you need, however, and we will always pursue the highest possible outcome for your claim.
Value of Your Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
A sexual harassment claim can be worth a fair amount of money in some scenarios. The insurance agent handling the case will consider many factors, such as the responsibility you exhibited, the length of the time the harassment was carried out, how the harassment and fallout affected your abilities to work elsewhere, and more. If you were removed from your job, assaulted, or otherwise mistreated, the value of your claim can change.
We will pursue the following forms of damages for you:
- Lost income from the time you were unable to work, which may include commissions, tips, bonuses, insurance benefits, and more. We can also ensure that you will receive future lost wages if you were unable to return to work, could not find a job in your field, or were blacklisted in the field for a period of time because of the claim.
- Reinstatement into your previous position if you were fired, demoted, or otherwise affected by the harassment. Some individuals face wrongful termination and can get their old jobs back in the aftermath of the claim. However, this option can be refused, especially if other coworkers and the environment contributed to the harassment. It might result in repeated mistreatment, long-term plans to get you to quit, and more. The goal of our attorneys is to also ensure that the offenders are appropriately punished, even removed, for their role in the harassment.
- Company changes in policies, regulations, standards, and more, which can result in rule changes, a system for reporting sexual harassment, and other forms of repayment. You should not have to work at a business that has next to no policies regarding sexual harassment.
- Pain and suffering damages, which can amount to coverage for emotional stress, fear, anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mental trauma, psychological scarring, and more due to the mistreatment and sexual harassment.
- Therapy sessions for healing from the potentially triggering events that unfolded and affected you.
- Medical expenses if you were sexually assaulted, which may include surgery costs, hospitalization fees, prescription drug and medication costs, physical therapy or rehabilitation session payments, future medical procedures and treatments, and more.
- Punitive damages, which are additional forms of monetary compensation that are awarded if the defendant behaved with gross negligence or with the intention to cause you harm. These damages are often viewed as excessive, however, and can generally only be won by a skilled sexual harassment lawyer.
We will not rest until we are fully satisfied with the settlement or verdict that we have brought you. Our goal is to ensure that you are fully covered for any and all damages stemming from the harassment.
Statute of Limitations to File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit in California
The statute of limitations is the time during which you can legally file a lawsuit. If you do not file a claim during that time period, your claim will be voided and you will not be allowed to collect any compensation. It is important that you act quickly when you intend to file a claim, for many reasons. For one, your evidence will be better preserved and will not be corrupted or lost due to time. Further, the statute can easily run away from you if you were not diligent and aware, especially as there are sometimes extenuating circumstances that can shorten or lengthen it.
California’s statute of limitations on sexual harassment claims is 1 year from the date of the harassment. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is a California-run organization, and it supersedes Federal rules. If you choose to file a lawsuit through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you will only have 180 days from the time of the incident. It is wise to file your claim with the DFEH so you do not potentially miss the deadline.
Once the organization receives your request, they will conduct an investigation and then send you an approval, at which point you can sue. You will have 1 year from the receipt of this letter to file your claim.
The statute of limitations can be extended in some scenarios. The most common involves minors who were affected in some way. If the minor were harassed, the statute of limitations will not count down until he turns 18 years old. Further, the defendant must be present in California in order to be sued. If he has left the state or the country for a period of time, the statute of limitations will be frozen until he returns.
It is important that you understand who the defendant is, as well, as that can affect the time limit on your case. If you are suing a government entity, you will only have 90 days from the time of the incident to file a lawsuit. That’s only 3 months – hardly enough time to gather the most evidence, and not enough time to recover from the incident.
The main issue that victims of sexual harassment face after they suffer mistreatment is missing the statute of limitations. Individuals often fail to understand how much time remains, or they try to take action too late and cannot receive restitution. If you come to our firm, we guarantee that you will not be subjected to any missed deadlines. Your case will be submitted on time and you will not run the risk of getting rejected.
Call our firm today to find out how much time remains on your case. We will file your lawsuit for you and see to it that you are fairly compensated for being sexually harassed at work.
We know that some victims are hesitant to move forward with sexual harassment lawsuits because they do not speak English. Our attorneys are here to ensure that all victims of sexual harassment receive the compensation they deserve. Our lawyers speak Spanish and can provide you with sufficient translations so that you are fully aware of the proceedings of the case, the evidence required, the potential outcomes, and more. We have bilingual lawyers because we believe everyone is entitled to fair treatment and civil action if they have been mistreated in the workplace, irrespective of the language they speak.
You can call our law firm today to work with a Spanish-speaking lawyer for your case.
Free Second Opinion
If you already have an attorney representing you in your sexual harassment claim, you may have felt slighted, ignored, or otherwise mistreated. Many individuals who seek legal action search for lawyers but do not understand what separates good lawyers from poor ones. Often, attorneys will take on numerous cases at once and will not pay them the attention they need. They will seek to negotiate quick settlements with insurance agents and pressure you to sign the agreements.
They do this because it is a fast way to get their checks and move on. The only winners in those situations are the attorneys, who earn their income, and the insurance agents, who keep profits up. Victims will walk away with next to no compensation, which is completely unfair to them.
If your current attorney has been ignoring you or has been pressuring you to agree to a small settlement, you should look for a second opinion. Our team of lawyers can look over your case and give you a free case review to determine how well your current legal representative is doing, if he’s working hard to win you the maximum settlement, or if he’s acting in his own best interests. We can show you the different possibilities for your case, the potential value it has in relation to other claims, and more.
If you wish to switch representatives, you can do so for free with our law firm. We will ensure that your sexual harassment case is appropriately handled and that there are no loose ends or errors during the legal process. We treat all of our clients like family, and you can always reach us for more details and updates. Our firm is built on the foundation of fair and equal treatment and the pursuit of justice, and we do not condone lawyers who act in bad faith.
Call today for a free second opinion on your sexual harassment claim.
Why Select Our Firm
The California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group has been at the forefront of sexual harassment lawsuits for years. We know the best methods for success and will stop at nothing to secure you every penny you deserve. If we have to go to court to defend your rights in front of a judge and jury, our aggressive lawyers are willing to do so. We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for clients throughout the years, and we firmly believe in the pursuit of justice for everyone who walks through our doors. Employers should be held properly accountable if they allow sexual harassment to go unchecked at their businesses.
Contact our law firm today if you want to schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your claim. We will answer all of your questions and we will tell you how the legal process works. We will also assist you in making any decisions moving forward. All consultations are completely confidential, so none of your personal information or case details will be shared outside of our offices. You can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We will always take your call and will constantly keep you updated on the progress of your claim.
If you hire us to represent you, we will give you our zero fee guarantee. This is a promise that you will not have to pay us a single dime out of pocket for our services. We will get paid only if we win, and the money for our fees will be taken from the settlement we secure you from your company. We do not get paid unless and until we win. If we lose your case and cannot bring you a settlement or verdict, we will eat all the losses associated with it, and you will not owe our firm any money at all. You can walk away debt-free to our law office.
To get started on your sexual harassment lawsuit, reach out to one of our expert sexual harassment lawyers at the California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group in Los Angeles.