How Much Can I Get in a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settlement?

Sadly, the question, “How much can I get in a sexual harassment lawsuit settlement?” is asked by thousands of people in the United States each year. While many companies go to great lengths to provide supportive, safe, and harassment-free places to work, some employers are not always successful. There are also employers who make little to no effort to keep a workplace free of behaviors that involve sexual harassment. For those victimized by harassment, there is the option of filing a lawsuit. When it ends in their favor, they can receive a settlement. Some victims may want to know how much their sexual harassment lawsuit is worth so they can decide whether or not to take legal action.

Sexual Harassment is Common

It has been more than 14 years since the birth of the “Me Too” movement. Back in 2006, Tarana Burke coined the term. Its visibility and popularity skyrocketed in 2017 in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Women across the country responded.

One would think that the flood of publicity surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace would have had a significant effect on reducing the number of incidents.  But, it didn’t.  In fact, many individuals still work in hostile workplaces. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that in Fiscal Year 2019 they received over 7,500 charges of sexual harassment.

To better understand the magnitude, it is important to recognize that these 7,500 cases are only those which have been reported to the Commission.  Most people (72%, according to a CareerBuilder Survey) do not report these illegal events. They either suffer in silence or look for new employment.

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

If you are unsure of your options, contact an experienced sexual harassment attorney. Your attorney can evaluate your situation, provide advice for your next steps and help determine whether or not you should pursue a lawsuit.

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Payouts

When sexual harassment is legally proven to have taken place, the victim is often entitled to financial compensation. Payouts for sexual harassment are governed by federal law and are determined by both the type of damages awarded as well as the size (measured by the number of employees) of the accused business.

How Much Can I Get in a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit? Two Types of Damages

To begin, two types of damages can be awarded in sexual harassment cases. They can be categorized as either compensatory or punitive.

  • Compensatory Damages

    Sexual harassment lawsuit payouts awarded for damages that can be quantified are referred to as compensatory.  These include reimbursement for lost pay (including bonuses or tips if applicable) and lost benefits (like health insurance or stock options).  Additionally, these may include payment for health services, including physical medicine and necessary psychological counseling in certain situations.

    You also may be eligible for either back pay or front pay.  An example of back pay is the reimbursement for a salary increase you were denied because of a promotion not received due to harassment.   Front pay, on the other hand, is awarded to cover the time between when you were fired or left your job because of harassment and when you return to work.  These forms of compensatory damages are complex and are often confused with each other.  An experienced sexual harassment attorney can further explain the differences and review your case to determine which of the two, if either, you may be entitled to receive.

  • Punitive Damages

    Damages can also be awarded in cases where the behavior was extreme. This is often the case when the management of a company has been made aware that sexual harassment is occurring yet does nothing to rectify the situation. These damages are awarded to punish the organization.

EEOC Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Settlement Amounts

As mentioned above, federal law sets limits on damages awarded in sexual harassment cases. If you work for a smaller business, employing between 15 and 100 individuals, you may be awarded up to $50,000 in damages. However, if you work for a large corporation (one with more than 500 employees), damages can be awarded up to $300,000. In answer to the question “how much is a sexual harassment lawsuit worth,” the short answer is that it varies. Clearly, larger businesses with more resources to provide a safe workplace can face more severe penalties.

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits in California

Unfortunately, the State of California is no stranger to sexual harassment in the workplace. As such, laws have been enacted to protect those who work there.  In fact, employees working in California are protected by federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and state law (The Fair Employment and Housing Act, FEHA).

The FEHA is more restrictive than federal law, as it holds businesses of all sizes accountable for harassment. Federal law exempts businesses with fewer than 15 employees from its guidelines. Additionally, the state requires businesses to develop and share formal policies designed to prevent harassment. It has enacted specific rules and regulations that outline steps employers must proactively take to protect those who work for them.

How to File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Are you a victim of sexual harassment at work? If so, you should address the issue as soon as possible. The process is complex, especially in California. In fact, knowing whether a coworker’s actions constitute harassment can be confusing. You may be unsure whether the behavior you have experienced can even be defined as such.

It may be beneficial for you to contact a sexual harassment attorney who can help you to determine if the scope of what has occurred is, in fact, illegal and, if so, how to file a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Working with a reputable and experienced professional who understands both state and federal rules and regulations can give you peace of mind that you are acting appropriately.

Contact the Experienced Team at Gilleon Law Firm Today

The Gilleon Law Firm is well-known throughout California for its commitment to supporting the victims of sexual harassment.  The combination of the compassionate care they provide their clients, combined with the aggressive manner in which they pursue justice, has resulted in an unmatched reputation. In fact, they have recovered more than $100 million in successful claims.

If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment, contact our attorneys today at 619-702-8613 for your free consultation. They will help determine your “next steps” and explain just how much you can get in a sexual harassment lawsuit settlement.