Can Sexual Harassment Victims Be Compensated For Their Emotional Distress?

March 12, 2019

Sexual Harassment is a rising issue in today’s workplace. Unfortunately, many employees are subjected  to sexual harassment without knowing the rights and remedies that are available to them. It is important to know that the law has provided many safeguards for employees who are subjected to this type of harassment in the workplace. Along with the physical effects of sexual harassment, victims often suffer severe emotional distress as well. The purpose of this post is to inform victims of sexual harassment about how they can recover for the emotional distress they are suffering from.

What is Sexual Harassment?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”

The EEOC goes on to state, “Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.”

“Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). “

When is an Employer Liable

An often discussed topic when it comes to sexual harassment is determining who should be held liable for sexual harassment in the workplace. Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, an employer can be held liable for the acts of any of its employees. Whether an employee is being harassed by their co-worker or supervisor, an employer has a duty to their employees to ensure a safe working environment.

Furthermore, even if the harasser is a customer or a client of the business, the employer may be held liable if they were aware of the harassment and failed to take action to prevent it from continuing.

Sexual Harassment and Emotional Distress

Sexual harassment can have a major effect on a victims mental health. Many victims of sexual harassment experience self-doubt and proceed to blame themselves from what occurred. It is not uncommon for victims of sexual harassment to experience depression, anxiety and even post-traumatic stress disorder. This type of  emotional distress that is caused by sexual harassment can lead significant damages.

If an employee feels that they are being subjected to any form of sexual harassment in the workplace then they should consult with an attorney who is experienced in labor law immediately. The laws governing sexual harassment are complex. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statute of limitations, as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice.  Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.

What Steps Can I Take to Address Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

One step you can take  is to to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or your states employment right agency. The EEOC is a U.S. Government agency that is responsible for making sure federal anti-harassment laws are being enforced. The EEOC will begin an independent investigation once an employee files an administrative charge through their offices. It is important to note that the EEOC may contact your employer or co-workers. Further, EEOC officers may make site visits to the workplace and conduct witness interviews.

If the EEOC determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that the employee is being subjected to harassment in the workplace, they will provide the complainant with a Right to Sue notice. This will permit the employee to proceed to court with proper representation. An EEOC investigation is necessary step prior to filing.

Find Representation

If an employee feels that they are being subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace then they should consult with an attorney who is experienced in labor law immediately. The laws governing sexual harassment are complex. There are strict regulations governing the process for filing a lawsuit. Furthermore, there are strict time restrictions, known as statute of limitations, as to when a lawsuit can be filed. The experienced attorneys at Shegerian Conniff are ready to hold your employer accountable, fight for your legal rights, and seek justice.  Click here to contact us today or call us at 310-322-7500 for a free consultation.