If you’re sexually harassed at work, you might be able to sue the person who harassed you – or your employer.
In light of recent events – those involving Harvey Weinstein, in particular – many people have realized that they, too, have been victims of sexual harassment.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment covers a range of conduct in the workplace, including:
- Verbal sexual harassment
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Request or demands for sexual favors
- Physical touching that’s sexual in nature
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid pro quo means “this for that,” and it’s the type of sexual harassment that occurs when a supervisor says or implies that someone must submit to his or her sexual advances. If the subordinate doesn’t, he or she will face adverse employment action.
Hostile Work Environment Harassment
Sexual harassment that creates a hostile work environment occurs when an employee engages in unwelcome sexual conduct that makes the workplace intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Anyone in the workplace can be guilty of this type of sexual harassment; it doesn’t have to come from a supervisor.
What Happened With Harvey Weinstein (and Why It Matters)
Harvey Weinstein, a film producer who reportedly used his fashion business to harass several models, has been accused of harassment and assault by more than 50 women to date – and more could be coming forward. The now-disgraced producer was in charge of Project Runway, which some people allege Weinstein used to get close to and harass models. The allegations of harassment come from Los Angeles, New York and London, suggesting that Weinstein was a serial harasser who continued until he got caught.
Many of the women Weinstein allegedly harassed and assaulted were afraid to speak up. Italian actress Asia Argento said that she was afraid he would ruin her career, and Gwyneth Paltrow said, “I was expected to keep the secret. I thought he was going to fire me.”
These allegations are extremely serious – and quid pro quo sexual harassment is illegal.
Can You Sue for Sexual Harassment?
You may be entitled to financial compensation if you’ve been sexually harassed at work.
Workplace sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, offensive comments about your gender at work, or comments or actions of a sexual nature.
Back Pay in Sexual Harassment Cases
You could be entitled a financial award for back pay if you were denied a raise or promotion, or if you were fired as a result of sexual harassment. In legal terms, back pay refers to the wages, benefits and other compensation you would’ve earned between the time of the adverse employment decision and the date of the jury award. It covers:
- Wages (including raises you would’ve earned)
- Bonuses, commissions and tips
- The value of benefits, such as life insurance or health insurance
- Vacation pay and sick pay
- Retirement benefits
- Stock options for profit-sharing
Front Pay in Sexual Harassment Cases
If you lost your job, or if you had to quit over the sexual harassment, you might have the right to return to your old position. In many cases, though, that’s impossible (such as when your relationship with your employer has degenerated so much that you can’t go back). Some people who can’t resume their old jobs are entitled to front pay, which is compensation for pay you are likely to lose out on from the date of your jury award and into the future.
Compensatory and Punitive Damages in Sexual Harassment Cases
Even if you’re not entitled to back pay or front pay, you can still receive compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages: money to compensate you for emotional distress, harm to your reputation, and out-of-pocket costs
Punitive damages: money the employer must pay as a punishment for knowing the situation existed but failing to take steps to stop it
What You Can Do if You’ve Been Sexually Harassed
If you’ve been sexually harassed, or if you’re going through it right now, you need to talk to an attorney who understands your situation and how violating these types of advances can be. Talking to a sexual harassment attorney in Glendale is a positive step in the right direction – often, the first one in stopping the harassment once and for all.
Call us right now at 818-617-9706 or toll-free at 800-774-4163 for a free, confidential consultation with a Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer. We may be able to help you.