Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of professional misconduct. Employees who are unfortunate enough to be victims of this type of misconduct can seek legal redress by taking their employer to court.
Although a compensation lawyer will handle the technical aspects of a sexual harassment case, it's still good for victims of harassment to understand what to expect with a sexual harassment law suit. This article answers three questions that an employee who feels that they've been sexually harassed may have.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
Contrary to what a number of employees may believe, requests for work-related sexual favours and unsolicited physical advances are not the only forms of sexual harassment in the workplace.
For example, an employee who constantly receives unsolicited emails that contain sexually offensive content (e.g. nude photos and jokes of a sexual nature) from their supervisor can sue for sexual harassment. In such a case, one would have a much stronger case if the supervisor kept sending the mentioned emails even after the "victim" employee registered a complaint with respect to the emails.
Employees who go through gender-related harassment can also sue their employers. Gender-related harassment refers to a situation in which an employee is discriminated against because of their gender. For example, well-qualified employees who can prove that they were denied a promotion because of their gender can sue for sexual harassment.
A single mother-to-be may also sue fellow employees for gossiping about who the father of the unborn child is. If the expectant employee is able to prove that such gossip caused her psychological harm and that it was a violation of her dignity, she can be compensated.
How Much Compensation Is Awarded To Victims Of Harassment?
The amount of compensation will often depend on the type of damage(s) that the employer will be forced to pay. These types of damages include but are not limited to the following:
- Back pay: Back pay would be awarded to employees who missed a promotion (or lost their job) for reasons related to sexual harassment or gender-related harassment.
- Front pay: Front pay is awarded to employees who win the court battle, but choose to forfeit their right to be re-instated to their former position.
- Punitive damages: Employers may be forced to pay punitive damages in the event that they failed to take action upon becoming aware that one of their employees was being harassed sexually.