Federal law in the United States gives employees the right to a workplace free of harassment and discrimination based on personal identity, including the right to work without the fear of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a broad term that can apply to many possible scenarios, but the root of sexual harassment is a coworker, supervisor, or employer creating a hostile work environment for an employee based on his or her sex or gender. When employees suffer sexual harassment or sexual discrimination in the workplace, the process of resolving the issue and recovering damages can be very complicated.
If you’ve suffered sexual harassment in the workplace, discuss your options with one of our attorneys. At Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, we understand that a sexual harassment case can not only cause physical and psychological harm but also economic losses from lost income and missed opportunities for advancement. Our reputation as trustworthy lawyers gives your case immediate weight, and we treat our clients as if they are family.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employees to provide notice if they intend to take legal action for an act of workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex or any other protected category like religion, skin color, nationality, or sexual orientation. The EEOC investigates workplace harassment and discrimination claims and provides claimants with a Notice of Right to Sue if the agency confirms a claim has merit. Once a claimant receives the Notice of Right to Sue, he or she has 90 days to take legal action. The EEOC has 180 days to provide a Notice of Right to Sue. If the agency does not initiate an investigation in this time, it must issue a Notice of Right to Sue to the claimant anyway.
The EEOC investigation will determine whether there is reasonable cause for legal action. If an employee cannot resolve the situation internally using the employer’s in-house sexual harassment resolution policies, the employee should proceed to administrative action by filing an EEOC complaint. An experienced employment attorney can be a tremendous asset in this situation and help the client navigate the EEOC claims and appeals processes and handle a civil claim against the employer if necessary.
Sexual harassment can include things like unwelcome sexual advances, sexual jokes or references, sexual gestures, posting sexual content around the workplace, or pressuring a subordinate employee to perform sexual favors. The line between sexual harassment and sexual assault is physical contact; when an offender physically touches a victim in an unwelcome sexual manner, he or she commits sexual assault.
Sexual discrimination can refer to any employment-related decisions based on an employee’s sex, such as promotions, pay raises, transfers, participation in special projects, and pay rate. A sexual discrimination lawsuit may yield compensation for an employee’s lost pay and benefits that he or she would have reasonably expected to earn had the discrimination not taken place.
Several types of damages are available in a sexual harassment lawsuit. Typically, the employee will be able to recover economic losses sustained as a result of harassment or feeling forced to leave a hostile work environment. If the offense resulted in physical or psychological harm, the employee can sue for the medical expenses required for treatment. Employers who knowingly engage in harassing or discriminatory workplace behaviors also face punitive damages. As the name suggests, a jury will award punitive damages to discourage similar behavior in the future. The amount the plaintiff receives typically depends on the size and value of the offending employer or company.
If you have experienced sexual harassment in a Chicago workplace, the attorneys at the Clifford Law Offices can help determine your best options for recovery. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your sexual harassment claim, and we can let you know how our firm can help.