Federal law limits the amount of damages recoverable in a sexual abuse or harassment lawsuit against an employer to $300,000. The amount varies depending on the number of employees; on the state level, damage caps vary.
Individuals who sue employers for sexual abuse can recover up to $300,000 in damages.
Expected Amount of Damages from Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
A person who initiates a sexual harassment lawsuit against their employer can recover different amounts in damages depending on the number of employees working there. For example, at large companies with over 500 employees, the damage cap on sexual harassment lawsuits is $300,000. Meanwhile, if the business is smaller with 15 to 100 employees, the damage cap is $50,000.
Attorney’s Share in Cases
Attorneys only recover a share of the plaintiff’s settlement if a sexual abuse case is successful. A portion of the money goes to cover the costs of attorneys’ fees and court filing fees. However, if the person doesn’t win the case, they don’t have to pay.
For a free legal consultation, call 321-503-4014
What Is the Average Settlement for Sexual Harassment Lawsuits?
The average settlement for sexual harassment lawsuits is around $50,000.
How Are Settlements Calculated in Sexual Harassment Cases?
Settlements in sexual harassment claims are calculated by taking into account money the plaintiff is owed in both upfront and back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Back Pay in Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
A person can recover back pay as part of their compensatory damages in a sexual harassment lawsuit if they were fired or the employer deliberately withheld their pay as retaliation for filing a complaint.
Front Pay in Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
If the employee lost pay they were due upfront, also referred to as “front pay,” they can recover it as part of their sexual harassment settlement. Front pay also includes any tips, commissions or bonuses, benefits such as health insurance coverage, retirement, pension and profit-sharing or stocks.
Compensatory and Punitive Damages in Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
Compensatory damages in sexual harassment lawsuits are available regardless of whether the individual lost any front or back pay. These damages include medical bills, therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses and non-economic damages like emotional distress or pain and suffering.
Punitive damages can also be awarded not to award the plaintiff but to punish the defendant for egregious behavior. This compensation is available regardless of whether the employer perpetrated the harassment or abuse or knew about it but did nothing to address it.
What Is the Compensation Limit for Sexual Harassment Settlements?
Per federal law, plaintiffs in sexual harassment lawsuits can only recover a certain amount in their settlement. The limit is $50,000 for employers with 15 to 100 workers, $100,000 for employers with 101 to 200 workers, $200,000 for employers with 201 to 500 workers and $300,000 for employers with over 500 workers.
However, it may be possible to recover more in a settlement based on the state where the offense occurred.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
What Are the Three Types of Harassment?
There are three types of sexual harassment in the workplace or anywhere else: verbal, physical and visual.
Verbal Sexual Harassment
Verbal sexual harassment in the workplace involves making inappropriate comments or jokes of a sexual nature. The perpetrator can make those statements directly to the victim or even indirectly in their presence with the intention of making the person feel uncomfortable. It can also occur when the abuser makes conditions of employment to force the victim into a corner.
Physical Sexual Harassment
Physical sexual harassment is done by making unwanted physical contact such as touching the victim or going even further by actually assaulting them. Unwanted sexual advances may constitute both verbal and physical sexual harassment.
Visual Sexual Harassment
Visual sexual harassment is committed when the abuser sends unwanted explicit photos or messages to the victim. This may include photos or images or both.
What Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Workplace sexual harassment is any type of unwanted conduct that makes another person feel uncomfortable and makes for a hostile work environment. It can also involve making threats toward another person that make them fear for their jobs so that they feel they have no choice but to give in to sexual demands. The perpetrator can be a boss, manager, supervisor or coworker.
What Is Not Considered Workplace Sexual Harassment?
Although comments about a person’s appearance in a sexual manner definitely constitute workplace sexual harassment, some things don’t fall under that category. For example, someone telling an employee that they like their outfit is not considered workplace sexual harassment. On the other hand, if a supervisor tells a female employee that their pants really accentuate their buttocks, it’s considered sexual harassment.
If two people in the workplace are involved in a consensual relationship, it’s also not considered sexual harassment if one makes a sexual comment toward the other. However, if the couple breaks up and one party continuously makes unwanted advancements or explicit comments, it’s considered workplace sexual harassment.
Difference Between Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault
Although both sexual harassment and sexual assault are both offenses of a sexual nature, they have differences. Sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is considered a civil violation. Sexual assault, on the other hand, is a criminal offense that involves any type of deliberate sexual contact forced onto another person without their consent.
Understanding the 4 Types of Workplace Violence
There are four different types of workplace violence: employer-employee workplace violence, worker-on-worker violence, criminal intent and workplace environments that pose a greater chance of workplace violence.
Understanding Employer-Employee Workplace Violence
Employer-employee workplace violence occurs when the employer perpetrates violence against an employee. The employer exerts control over the subordinate.
Understanding Worker-on-Worker Violence
Worker-on-worker violence is exactly as it sounds: one employee commits an act of violence against another. This can happen when one person is still employed at the company or is no longer working there.
Understanding Criminal Intent
Criminal intent is a type of workplace violence that is perpetrated by someone who does not have a relationship with the company or the employees. Instead, a third party commits the violence. For example, someone walks into a store and commits armed robbery.
What Workplace Environments Pose a Higher Risk of Workplace Violence?
Certain workplace environments generally pose a higher risk of workplace violence. This may include law enforcement, retail stores, healthcare facilities, nightclubs and anything involving money exchanges with the public.
Explaining Workplace Violence
Workplace violence is any kind of violent act or threat at any place where people work. This can include harassment, verbal threats, physical actions such as battery or any type of behavior that makes people feel intimidated and their safety vulnerable. Generally, workplace violence can be anything from verbal taunts or threats to homicide. It can include employees, employers, associates, clients, customers or visitors.
Can a Person Sue for Workplace Violence?
If a person suffers injuries after workplace violence and workers’ compensation doesn’t cover them, they can file a lawsuit against the appropriate party. This is especially true if the employer exhibited gross negligence in preventing the incident from happening.
Who Reports Workplace Violence?
An employee who experiences or witnesses workplace violence should notify their supervisor or manager. They should create a document detailing the incident and how the company’s workplace prevention program has been violated. The employee or another party such as the supervisor can also call the police in cases of imminent danger.
Type of Lawyer Needed for Work-Related Problems
An employment lawyer is needed to handle all work-related problems like workplace violence, sexual harassment and other matters.
When Is Harassment Considered Illegal?
Harassment is considered illegal when it places inferior conditions or terms on a person’s employment. No one’s job should be threatened or compromised in any way; often, the perpetrator threatens the victim’s job or revokes privileges. This is against the law.
What to Do When Being Sexually Harassed at Work
If an employee is being sexually harassed at work, they should first tell the perpetrator to stop. If that doesn’t achieve anything, the next step is to report the harassment to their supervisor or employer. If the supervisor is the perpetrator, reporting directly to the employer is best. However, if the employer is the harasser, the employee should report the abuse to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Importance of Speaking Up
The importance of speaking up cannot be overstated. When a worker is subjected to sexual harassment, one of their biggest strengths is their voice. Avoid staying silent and let the behavior be known. If the higher-ups are unaware of the situation, it’s best to speak up and immediately let them know; it could lead to an investigation into the perpetrator and action taken against them.
Undocumented Workers Suffering Sexual Harassment
It doesn’t matter if the worker suffering sexual harassment is undocumented; abuse is abuse and any harassment on the job is illegal. However, undocumented workers may not always receive back pay after filing a claim against their employer.
Evidence Necessary in a Sexual Harassment Case
Workers who file sexual harassment claims need evidence to back up their cases. Documentation in the form of written notes or journals, emails, text messages, photos and work-related items like employment reviews can all serve as strong evidence for the case. When keeping notes or a journal, the individual should refrain from exaggerating and just stick to the facts. However, it’s appropriate to job down how the situation has impacted them physically, emotionally and psychologically.
How to File a Workplace Sexual Harassment Claim
The best thing an employee can do when planning to file a workplace sexual harassment claim can do is to consult with an attorney. The lawyer can help prepare a complaint to be filed with the EEOC.
Follow Company Guidelines When Reporting Sexual Harassment
When reporting workplace sexual harassment, employees must carefully follow the company’s guidelines. There should be a workplace anti-harassment policy in place and procedures for enforcement if someone breaks the rules.
Report Sexual Harassment to Human Resources
Workers facing on-the-job sexual harassment should report the situation to their Human Resources department. The company can then investigate the claims and take the proper actions.
Documenting everything pertaining to workplace sexual harassment is crucial. The more evidence for a claim, the better. It provides a paper trail explaining what happened, when it occurred and who was involved.
Report the Incident to a Government Agency
In some cases, specifically, if the employer is involved in the sexual harassment or if the employer failed to protect employees or punish the perpetrators, individuals who have faced workplace sexual harassment can report directly to a government agency. File a written complaint with the EEOC.
Filing a Lawsuit for Injuries
Employees who suffer injury from workplace sexual harassment can file a lawsuit. If the case is successful, it allows the victim to recover compensation for damages such as emotional distress, lost income, lost benefits, medical or counseling expenses and more. Punitive damages may also be awarded depending on the circumstances.
Avoid Retaliating or Quitting
Some employees might be tempted to retaliate for the harassment they have faced or even quit their jobs. While these are normal reactions, it’s crucial to avoid doing either. Retaliation can only hurt the employee in backfiring; quitting can result in a loss of income and benefits. This could only make the problem worse.
What Should Employers Do?
Employers are required to properly train all employees about what constitutes sexual harassment and institute rules, procedures and consequences if anyone is found to be harassing someone in the workplace. They must also put up clear instructions in common areas explaining how to report incidents and should conduct an immediate, thorough investigation of any reports of sexual harassment. If necessary, employers should help to accommodate workers by separating them from the abuser. They cannot fire the victim or change their jobs in ways that punish them.
Time Limits for Filing a Complaint or Lawsuit
A worker facing sexual harassment at work has within 180 or 300 days to file a complaint with the EEOC.
What Are the Laws on Abuse and Harassment?
Abuse of any kind is illegal. Harassment in the workplace is considered discrimination and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Any type of ongoing unwanted behavior or actions that make for an uncomfortable working environment against anyone – in this case, for their gender or sexual orientation – is considered harassment.
Breaking Down the Laws
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Harassment is illegal in the workplace in any form. Under the law, it is prohibited against employees based on their race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy status, age, disability, national origin or genetic information.
Per the law, it’s prohibited for employers to retaliate against workers who file complaints for sexual harassment or any other type of discrimination.
Filing a Workplace Assault Lawsuit
In most cases, workers who suffer workplace assault can file a workers’ compensation claim. The only exception is if the employer is directly responsible for the assault or failed to properly handle the situation or prevent the assault from happening in the first place; in those situations, the employee can file a lawsuit against the employer.
Filing a Workplace Violence Lawsuit
An injured employee can file a workplace violence lawsuit against their employer if the employer was negligent in knowing that a threat existed but failed to take precautions to prevent it.
Understanding Employee Rights
Employees have the right to a safe working environment that’s free of harassment, discrimination and violence.
What Can Employees Do?
If an employee faces workplace harassment or violence, they can take action by reporting the situation to their supervisor, Human Resources department or law enforcement.
What Might Happen?
After an employee reports these incidents to their employer, the employer should take steps to fully investigate the matter. Taking action against the perpetrator must be done; the complaining employee should not be punished in any way but can be protected.
Employees Have Rights
Employees facing harassment or assault in the workplace have the right to file a formal complaint with their employer or the EEOC and can file for workers’ compensation if they have suffered injuries. They can also file a lawsuit in certain situations to recover compensation for their medical bills, ongoing treatment, medications and any lost wages, including back pay and front pay as well as benefits.
Explaining Attorneys’ Fees
If an employee hires an attorney to represent them in a lawsuit, they don’t have to pay if their case is unsuccessful. If it’s successful, the attorney takes a small percentage of the settlement to satisfy attorneys’ fees.
Why Consult an Attorney?
Consulting an attorney is essential because the employee can gain helpful insight into how best to proceed with their case. A skilled employment lawyer can help with the filing process whether the complaint should go to the EEOC or the court.
How Much Money Can You Sue Someone for Harassment?
You can only recover up to $300,000 for a workplace harassment lawsuit due to damage limits.
Can I Sue for Harassment Emotional Distress?
You can sue for emotional distress as part of your damages in a harassment case. This can cover both emotional and physical effects that occur; for example, you’re experiencing anxiety and need therapy and anti-anxiety medication due to the harassment you’ve faced at work.
What Is an Average Settlement for a Harassment Lawsuit?
The average settlement in a harassment lawsuit is around $50,000.
Can I Sue Someone for Harassment by Text?
You can sue someone for harassing you by text. One of the ways harassment takes place is through text messages. If you have evidence, it can help prove your case.
Is Workplace Violence Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Workplace violence is covered by workers’ compensation unless your employer is the one who directly perpetrated it.
Can a Company Fire You for Suing Them?
If a company fires you for filing a lawsuit, it’s against the law and considered retaliation. You have a right to file a lawsuit against the employer for that as well.
How Can I Prove a Sexual Harassment Claim Against a Supervisor?
Keeping all documentation of sexual harassment and writing a journal detailing the dates, times, situations and the name of your supervisor can help you prove your case and that the supervisor harassed you.
How Can I Prove a Sexual Harassment Claim Against a Coworker or Other Individual?
You can prove your sexual harassment against a coworker or someone else by keeping all of your documentation of the incidents. This includes your journal entries, emails, texts, photos, voicemails or anything else. Sometimes, witnesses may step forward to help back up your claim.
How Can I File a Work Sexual Harassment Claim?
Report sexual harassment to your direct supervisor or Human Resources department. You can also file a complaint with the EEOC.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer if I Have a Workplace Sexual Harassment Claim?
Hiring a lawyer is often wise because they can help you prepare your claim, ensure that you have strong evidence and help you file.