If you’ve been sexually harassed at work, you may be wondering “how much can I get for a sexual harassment case?’ and the types of damages to which you may be entitled.
If you take legal action, there are different kinds of “remedies” you can ask for. Some have to do with money as compensation for your back pay losses if you were terminated illegally, and also for your emotional distress, and some remedies have to do with changing your employer’s discriminatory policies and practices. Not everyone can get these remedies, let alone all of them.
Each case is different, and every potential client brings her own expectations, needs, and unique circumstances to this playing field, but these are some common examples of settlement demands that you may be able to obtain if you’re successful in your lawsuit or you reach a settlement.
- Compensation for lost wages and other economic losses if the sexual harassment resulted in a loss of income (e.g., you had to take a leave of absence, you lost work hours, you were fired due to the sex harassment or due to your complaints about it, and you had no income for a time, or you were fired and have not found a job that pays you as much.)
- Compensation for emotional distress or pain and suffering, which could include severe stress, anxiety, PTSD, mental anguish, major depression, loss of sleep, damage to your reputation, and loss of the enjoyment of life resulting from the sexual harassment.
- Reinstatement: If you were fired or forced out because of the sexual harassment or retaliation, you could potentially get your job back with an award of back pay.
- Punitive damages: If you sue in state or federal court and demonstrate that the employer acted with malice or showed “reckless indifference” to your rights, you may be able to get the court or a jury to order that the employer pay punitive damages, which are meant to punish especially awful employers and send a cautionary message to other employers.
- Attorneys’ fees: These anti-discrimination civil rights laws are “fee-shifting” statutes, which means that if you win in court, your employer will also be responsible for paying your attorneys’ fees, separate and apart from the monetary award that the jury gives you, so then you would not be required to pay your lawyer separately out of your jury award.
- Make your employer change their policies or practices. You may be able to get the court to order, or to simply get your employer to agree to change the way it conducts its operations in the future to help make the workplace safer and more equitable for all, and to help ensure that others do not suffer the same sexualizing harassment fate that you did.
Next Steps if You’ve Been Sexually Harassed
If you’ve been sexually harassed, we invite you to call our firm for a free consultation and case evaluation to speak with an experienced sexual harassment attorney. It is important that you do so before filling a claim with the EEOC, as if this is done, you will have elected to pursue a certain path that you may not want to pursue without understanding your rights.
And, it is critical to understand that you should not quit before speaking to a sexual harassment lawyer; otherwise, you may lose much of your leverage and potential claims.