Damages in a Sexual Harassment Case

If you have faced sexual harassment at work there are damages you may be able to claim, either through negotiation with your employer, or by filing a lawsuit.

The type and amount will depend on whether your employer did anything about the sexual harassment when it was taking place, or just hoped it would go away.

Compensatory Damages

These are damages you may claim from your employer for allowing sexual harassment to take place in the workplace. These are available when your employer has violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They can include any of the following:

  • back pay if you have lost any while attending to your lawsuit;
  • compensatory damages which will compensate you for emotional distress and harm to your reputation because of the sexual harassment;
  • punitive damages can be demanded to punish your employer because it recklessly allowed sexual harassment to take place and was indifferent to the harm it could do to you; 
  • attorney’s fees and legal expenses.

Not all states have the same laws for compensation and many put a cap on the amount you can claim. You should check your state’s rules before placing a value on your claim.

The sorts of things that can be included in compensatory damages are anything that you could have lost due to sexual harassment such as:

  • bonuses, commissions and tips;
  • pension benefits;
  • sick pay;
  • the value of life insurance and health insurance;
  • vacation pay;
  • wages, including increases you are entitled to receive.

Punitive Damages for Sexual Harassment

If you file a lawsuit you may be awarded punitive damages.  These are designed to punish your employer for allowing you to be exposed to sexual harassment which is forbidden under law happening in the workplace.

At the very least, your employer should have stopped the sexual harassment taking place.  It is a requirement under the law that the employer must take action if an employee is subjected to sexual harassment.

Your employer will be required to pay punitive damages based on an amount determined in court. This is because it is the employer who is to blame for not controlling sexual harassment in the workplace.

When you are filing for damages it usually takes some time for the decision to be made, so you shouldn’t accept any token amounts from your employer who may try to do this with the hope you will withdraw the lawsuit.

The best step to take is to contact an employment lawyer who will help you through the process of getting justice for sexual harassment in your workplace that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

How an Employment Lawyer Can Help

An employment lawyer is experienced in dealing with cases of sexual harassment at work and will look at your case and the evidence you provide to determine if you have a good case to file a damages claim.

Your attorney may help you write a complaint letter to your employer which is a requirement in any case of workplace sexual harassment before a damages claim can be filed.

If your employer fails to respond then the next step is asking your lawyer to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). 

Once this has been received, the EEOC will contact your employer. Sometimes, the EEOC will arrange mediation with your employer.

If this isn’t accepted your last chance of taking any action is to file a lawsuit and demand damages for the sexual harassment that you have experienced while trying to do your job. Your employment lawyer will guide you through the process.

Additional Resources