Employer liability and obligations in sexual harassment cases
Cases of sexual harassment in the workplace are complicated enough. However, the situation becomes much more complicated when you consider the employer’s liability in the case and whether they have any obligations to the employee who has been sexually harassed. There are many different factors that affect an employer’s liability in a sexual harassment case, which can make the situation more complicated still.
Those situations are covered in this article, but if you are the victim of sexual harassment, then you need to contact a lawyer who specializes in that field. Los Angeles residents can contact an attorney from the Spivak Law Firm if they need help with a sexual harassment case, no matter how complicated that case may be.
When Is The Employer Liable for Sexual Harassment?
As stated earlier, there are certain conditions in which the employer is liable and other conditions in which they are not. However, in every sexual harassment case, the employer has the responsibility to hold the perpetrators of sexual harassment responsible for their actions. The employer is directly liable for sexual harassment in the following circumstances.
If the harassment is committed by an employer or company official: Since those people can be reasonably considered to be a proxy for the company, the employer can be held liable for any sexual harassment offenses they commit.
Immediate Supervisors: Even though these individuals cannot be considered proxies for the company, they are high enough in the company hierarchy that they have authority over many employees. For that reason, the employer can be held liable for their behavior.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment: Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase meaning, this for that. It is when a supervisor promises a subordinate employee a reward—such as a raise or a promotion—in exchange for sexual favors. Since that conduct involves an authority figure taking advantage of an employee, the employer can be held liable. In instances where the harassment resulted in the supervisor taking a tangible employment action—such as termination or demotion—against an employee, the employer can be held liable.
Hostile Work Environment: Generally, the employer is liable in this case, particularly if they were aware of, or should have been aware of, the fact that employees were being harassed. However, the employer can try to avoid liability by claiming that they tried to curb or correct harassing behavior.
In cases where co-workers harass their fellow co-workers, the employer is unlikely to be held liable. In those cases, the harasser is the one who is held accountable.
How Should You Deal With Sexual Harassment?
If you want to give yourself the best chance of a successful outcome in your harassment case, then you should take the following steps.
- Consult your employee’s handbook and check on the policies regarding sexual harassment. Speak to an employment attorney that has experience in sexual harassment cases. Even if you do not plan to file a suit, they can be helpful in offering valuable advice.
- Take detailed notes documenting the incidents of harassment. These notes should include the time, location, and nature of the sexual harassment. If there were any witnesses to the harassment, you should take note of them as well.
- Report the harassment to your human resources department. If you feel comfortable confronting your harasser, then you can do so, though that is not at all necessary.
- FIle a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). You need to do this as quickly as possible because you have a 180 day time limit from when the harassment occurred to file a claim. The EEOC will conduct an investigation after notifying your employer. If they find that there is merit to your case, then they will file a lawsuit in federal court against your employer on your behalf.
- File a private civil suit against your employer. You can only do this after the EEOC has closed its case and given you a Right to Sue letter because it gives you the right to file a private lawsuit. If you attempt to file a suit before receiving the letter, then it will be dismissed. You have 90 days to file a lawsuit after receiving the letter. If you have not yet contacted a sexual harassment lawyer, then now is the time to do so.
An Employment Lawyer Can Help You With Your Case
An employment attorney experienced in sexual harassment cases can be a valuable ally when you are going up against your employer. They can provide useful advice and represent you when you are ready to file a civil suit. They can help to get you rehired if your employment was unfairly terminated, and they can also help you receive compensation for lost wages as well as pain and suffering. If you have experienced sexual harassment and your employer is liable, then do not hesitate to contact an employment attorney to get the help you need.