Sexual Harassment Case Examples

Understanding Sexual Harassment Can Be Difficult

Although sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, individuals across the country experience it every day. In fact, thousands of cases are reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year. Learning about sexual harassment case examples may help you understand what qualifies as sexual harassment and what legal options are available to you if you are a victim.

Many people are unsure whether they truly have been victimized. Harassing behaviors are often ignored, even though they are emotionally (and sometimes physically) damaging. We believe that knowledge of previous cases could prove enlightening and may help you to understand your situation just a little bit better. Our sexual harassment attorneys at Gilleon Law Firm can review your experience and help you achieve the justice you deserve. Contact us at (800) 408-2857 for a free consultation.

Gilleon Law Firm Attorneys Share Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Examples

If you believe you may have a case, learn about prominent sexual harassment lawsuit examples to help you better understand the types of lawsuits that have been filed.

EEOC v. Mitsubishi Motor Mfg. of America

On April 9, 1996, the EEOC filed a lawsuit on behalf of a group of both current and former employees of the Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Corporation (MMMA).

Arguments, in this case, lasted two years before MMMA decided to settle. Hundreds of female employees who worked on the company’s assembly line reported:

  • Name-calling, including those that were “crude and sexually explicit”
  • Offensive drawings on bathroom walls
  • Unwelcome advances by male co-workers, managers, and union officials
  • Propositions to provide sexual services.

MMMA argued that widespread actions like those which were reported were unlikely to have not been addressed by management. However, the company eventually did agree to a $34 million settlement. Because this was a class action case, the many victims would all share in the financial award.

Gretchen Carlson vs. Roger Ailes 2016

In July of 2016, Gretchen Carlson, a Fox News Network female anchor, filed suit against Roger Ailes, the organization’s Chairman, for sexual harassment. Ms. Carlson alleged that she was demoted and lost her job at the company because she did not succumb to the sexual advances of Mr. Ailes. She also claimed there was workplace harassment. In her complaint, she sued for both compensatory damages (loss of compensation, damage to a career path, etc.) and punitive damages.

Mr. Ailes left his position shortly after the suit was filed. In September of that same year, 21st Century Fox settled the suit with Ms. Carlson, reportedly for $20 million. Additionally, the company released a statement apologizing for the treatment she received.

Ashley Alford v. Aaron’s Rents 2011

Ashley Alford brought suit against her employer, Aaron’s Rents, in 2011. She alleged that she was a victim of both sexual harassment and assault by her manager in her place of work (an Illinois location of this national chain). According to Ms. Alford, she repeatedly approached the company regarding the harassment, but they ignored her claims. Eventually, she was physically assaulted by her manager.

She was initially awarded $95 million, an amount later reduced as a result of a federal damages cap. Eventually, the case was settled out of court for $6 million.

Carla Ingraham v. UBS Financial Services 2011

Carla Ingraham, a client service associate who worked for UBS Financial Services in Kansas City, Missouri, complained to her employer of sexual harassment in December of 2008. According to her, the broker for whom she worked had been making inappropriate comments for years. These included asking her sexually explicit questions and suggesting that she have sexual relations with a firm’s client. She was fired in July of 2009, one week after she filed a claim of sexual discrimination. The company did not take her allegations seriously and retaliated against her for filing a complaint.

She was awarded over $10 million by the jury, an amount which was reduced by the judge to just under $8.5 million. In 2012 the award was vacated and a confidential settlement was reached.

Sanders v. Madison Square Garden, L.P. (2007)

From 2000 to 2006, Anucha Browne Sanders was employed by Madison Square Garden in an executive position for the New York Knicks basketball team. In January of 2006, Ms. Browne Sanders was fired and soon after filed a suit for sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

Ms. Browne Sanders alleged that she was the victim of sexual harassment from the Knicks Coach, Isaiah Thomas. According to the suit, Ms. Browne Sanders alleged that Mr. Thomas made “unwanted advances” toward her and used inappropriate and abusive language.

On October 2, 2007, a jury ruled in favor of Ms. Browne Sanders and awarded her $11.6 million in punitive damages to be paid by Madison Square Garden and James L. Dolan, the Chairman of Cablevision. The award breakdown included:

  • $6 million in response to the hostile work environment faced by Ms. Browne Sanders.
  • $5.6 million in response to her firing for reporting her experience.

Mr. Thomas personally was not required to pay punitive damages.

The information shared above provides the answer to one of the most frequently asked questions of our attorneys, “what are some examples of sexual harassment cases?” The experiences of those who have faced sexual harassment are broad-based. While no two experiences are identical, all are valid and must be addressed.

The Keys to Understanding Sexual Harassment

What is Sexual Harassment?

At Gilleon Law Firm, our sexual harassment attorneys are often approached by individuals who are simply unsure whether or not their experiences “qualify” as sexual harassment. We understand that it can be difficult to determine whether your rights have been violated. Often what one considers annoying or aggravating may actually be illegal.

According to the EEOC, “harassment can include ‘sexual harassment’ or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Federal laws regarding sexual harassment in the workplace govern private businesses with more than 15 employees, labor organizations, and the government. Each state has its own laws, and those in California tend to be even more strict.

The Office of the Attorney General in California states, “sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. Briefly, sexual harassment refers to both unwelcome sexual advances, or other visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature and actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment based on an employee’s sex.”

Sexual harassment in the state can be defined as either a hostile work environment or quid pro quo.

California law defines a hostile work environment as one that is “offensive, oppressive or intimidating….”  Basically, individuals have the right to a workplace free of discrimination. Examples of a hostile workplace include but are not limited to

  • An office where people share sexually offensive jokes
  • A co-worker commenting on another’s appearance or body
  • Individuals at work making inappropriate gestures.

It is important to recognize that issues like these must be ongoing in order to render an environment hostile. A single, off-color comment, while inappropriate, does not quality an environment as hostile.

Quid pro quo is Latin for “this for that.” With regard to sexual harassment, quid pro quo occurs in one of two ways: an employee either submits to a specific action and is promised something in return or denies a request and suffers a negative consequence.  Examples of this include:

  • A manager promoting a direct report for agreeing to a date (reward for behavior)
  • A supervisor assigning an employee the least desirable shifts for rebuking his or her advances (negative consequences).

With regard to quid pro quo harassment, gender is irrelevant. The issue focuses on an individual’s inappropriately trying to leverage their position. It is also important to understand that organizations are responsible for providing safe, harassment-free workplaces. Claims should be welcomed; and if issues are identified, changes must be made.

What Is Not Sexual Harassment?

Not all harassment is sexual harassment. That said, these occurrences may still be illegal. Examples of other types of workplace harassment include:

  • Comments regarding ethnicity and/or skin color
  • Racist language
  • Negative comments about someone’s age
  • Discussions in which religious groups or beliefs are disparaged
  • Inappropriate conversations regarding others’ physical disabilities.

Should you be the victim of harassment at work, you should contact your human resources department to report inappropriate and offensive behavior. If your employer is not responsive and does not work to rectify the situation, you can contact the EEOC and consider speaking with an attorney who handles harassment cases.

Contact Our Team Today

Gilleon Sexual Harassment Lawyers Are Ready to Help You

Hopefully, the sexual harassment lawsuit examples we have shared, along with our attorneys’ explanations of what does and does not constitute sexual harassment, have provided you greater insight into your specific situation. Even with this information it can be difficult to determine whether you do, indeed, have a case.

If you believe you were the victim of workplace sexual harassment in California, contact our sexual harassment attorneys today at (800) 408-2857 for a free consultation.  Our experienced professionals appreciate the stress you are under.  They will always listen with a sympathetic ear and explain, in easy to understand language, the laws and how they apply to your situation.

Should you decide to go forward with your case, we will advocate for you every step of the way, handling everything from administrative filings, to negotiations to litigation if necessary.  We know the ins and outs of filing sexual harassment lawsuits in California and will leverage our experience and expertise as we help you.