Employers are prohibited from harassing employees based on their sex. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, though it also includes simple offensive remarks about a person’s sex such as using dergoatory language towards women. And contrary to popular belief, both the victim and harasser can be a woman or a man and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
Often times these types of claims stem from the treatment of a supervisor and his or her subordinates. But such claims can also be based on the treatment of co-workers and even clients or customers.
When an employee brings a lawsuit based on sexual harassment and wins, he or she is entitled to an award of damages which may include:
- back pay (or what you would have earned but for the employer’s wrongful conduct between the time of the wrongful act (such as wrongful discharge) and the time of trial);
- front pay (or what you would have earned but for the employer’s wrongful conduct from the time of the trial into the future);
- reinstatement (or giving you your job back);
- reasonable accommodation (such as a modification of your work environment if you are disabled); and
- other damages to restore the employee to the position he or she would have been in but for the discrimination.
Remedies may also include compensatory and punitive damages depending on various circumstances such as the egregiousness of the employer’s conduct. Remedies also may include attorneys’ fees and court costs.