Have You Experienced Sexual Assault Or Abuse?
More than 1,200 sexual assault survivors helped since 2023.
More than 1,200 sexual assault survivors helped since 2023.

What To Know About Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

Sexual harassment is a form of abuse affecting individuals of all ages and genders. Helping Survivors provides support and guidance to victims and helps them seek justice against their perpetrators. 

Survivor Advocate

Key Takeaways

  • There are many steps someone must take in order to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against their employer, including first going through the process of filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, generally within 180 days of the incident.
  • After filing the initial EEOC complaint, the agency will contact you and begin the EEOC investigation process. If they find reasonable cause, they issue a Notice of Right to Sue, allowing the individual the right to proceed with a lawsuit against your employer in civil court. This is a  complicated process and a lawyer with expertise in filing these types of claims can be hugely beneficial.
  • You should speak to a sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible if you experienced harm – including prior to filing a complaint with your employer and/or the EEOC. However, if you’ve already taken these steps, speaking to a professional attorney who specializes in sexual harassment lawsuits can not only help you navigate these processes and file paperwork, they can negotiate with your employer, as they’re often incentivized to settle claims prior to them reaching civil court, where records are public.

Sexual harassment is a form of abuse that impacts people of all genders and ages. Victims of sexual harassment can take legal action to seek justice and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

Understanding your rights after being sexually h arassed is essential. At Helping Survivors, we advocate for sexual abuse and harassment victims to ensure their rights are protected and get the justice they deserve. Our team offers resources and guidance regarding sexual harassment lawsuits. We also provide insight into the legal process and information on healing from the trauma caused by the incident.

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What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of abuse involving unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any other verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. The conduct can significantly impact a victim’s well-being.

There are two types of sexual harassment—quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when an individual in a position of power, such as a supervisor or manager, makes unwelcome sexual advances or requests sexual favors in exchange for job benefits, promotions, raises, or other favorable treatment. It can include explicit or implicit threats that refusal will result in adverse employment consequences.

Hostile Work Environment Harassment

Hostile work environment harassment occurs when an individual faces unwelcome sexual advances, comments, jokes, or other conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work atmosphere. Inappropriate touching in the workplace is a good example of a situation that would create a hostile work environment. Such behavior is so severe or pervasive that it makes it difficult for the victim to perform their job effectively and comfortably.

Addressing and preventing sexual harassment requires creating a safe and respectful environment for all individuals, regardless of gender or identity.

Last Date Modified
May 15, 2024

When is There a Legal Basis for a Sexual Harassment Suit?

If quid pro quo harassment occurs, there generally are clear grounds for a lawsuit. You must show the alleged harasser made unwanted sexual advances or engaged in unwelcome conduct, the harasser conditioned employment benefits or negative consequences on acceptance, and the behavior harmed you.

To pursue a legal case for sexual harassment in a hostile work environment case, there generally must be more than isolated incidents. The harassment must be persistent and severe enough to interfere with the victim’s work, education, or overall well-being.

To succeed in a sexual harassment claim, the victim typically must take reasonable steps to address the harassment, such as reporting it to a supervisor or human resources, and the actions taken in response were inadequate or retaliatory.

Having sufficient evidence is vital to building a strong case. Documenting incidents, preserving communication records, and interviewing witnesses are essential steps for supporting victims’ claims. Consulting an attorney is recommended to help assess the situation and determine whether legitimate grounds exist for pursuing a sexual harassment lawsuit. At Helping Survivors, we can connect victims with lawyers who specialize in sexual harassment cases.

Filing a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Filing a sexual harassment lawsuit is a complex process. The initial step is to file a formal complaint with the appropriate government agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The claim must be filed within 180 days of the incident.

After the claim is filed, the EEOC investigates the claim to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred and that the parties involved cannot resolve the situation. A Notice of Right to Sue is issued if the investigation shows cause for the claim.

This allows the victim to file their sexual harassment lawsuit in state or federal court. The lawsuit must be filed within 90 days, or the victim forfeits their right to file.

To better understand the sexual harassment lawsuit process, consult with an attorney. They can guide and counsel you throughout the legal process and protect your rights.

What Is the Average Settlement Amount of a Sexual Harassment Case?

The settlement amount of a sexual harassment case can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the severity of the harassment, the impact it had on the victim, the strength of the evidence, and the capabilities of the legal representation.

Settlements in sexual harassment cases can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. A sexual harassment lawyer can provide more information about the settlement you can expect.

Compensatory and
Punitive Damages

Sexual harassment compensation can include compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are for your out-of-pocket costs related to sexual harassment. They also cover emotional harm. Examples of compensatory damages you can recover include:

  • Lost pay, commissions, tips, and bonuses
  • Lost benefits
  • Medical costs, including psychological counseling

If the victim lost their job or was fired due to sexual harassment, back pay may be awarded if the case goes to trial.

A judge may also award punitive damages in a trial to punish the perpetrator for malicious or reckless actions. This may occur if the victim has evidence that the company knew of the harassment but did nothing to intervene. Compensatory and punitive damages are limited by federal law based on the employer’s size.

Legal Rights and Protection in a Sexual Harassment Case

Victims of sexual harassment have legal rights and protections under various laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination in employment. Additionally, Title IX is a federal law that protects against sexual harassment in educational settings.

Victims have the right to be free from retaliation for reporting harassment and the right to a fair investigation and resolution process. Also, victims cannot be fired or retaliated against by their employer for filing a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Hiring a Sexual Harassment Attorney

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment and considering pursuing legal action, hiring an experienced sexual harassment attorney is crucial. An attorney with expertise in this area will be well-versed in the relevant laws and can provide invaluable guidance.

When choosing an attorney, consider their experience, track record of successful cases, and ability to communicate effectively. A compassionate attorney will understand the situation’s sensitivity and prioritize the survivor’s well-being.

Helping Survivors has an extensive network of legal professionals who can help you file a sexual harassment lawsuit and pursue justice. We can also point you to mental health professionals who can help you process and overcome the trauma caused by the incident.

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