It's one thing to feel like you are being harassed at work. It's another to know you have a winning lawsuit for workplace harassment. Find out what makes a strong case, and what to do if you think you have one.
In this blog I will review what it takes to file a workplace harassment lawsuit. I will explain what makes a claim weak or strong, and how you can prove your case. I will also address how settlement can sometimes get the remedy you need.
State and federal civil rights laws protect against workplace harassment. If your job is made difficult by supervisors', coworkers', or even customers' comments and behaviors which constitute a hostile workplace or sexual harassment, you may be able to file a lawsuit in federal court.
Sexual harassment may be the most well-known kind of workplace harassment claim. It happens when an employee faces unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other comments or behaviors that are sexual in nature. It can also include offensive comments about the employee's sex or gender.
Even if the offensive behavior has nothing to do with sex, you may still have a workplace harassment claim when circumstances create a hostile work environment. This kind of harassment can be based on race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. As with sexual harassment, a lawsuit under federal law is only appropriate when it either:
Simple teasing or petty annoyances aren't enough to create a workplace discrimination lawsuit. So how bad is bad enough to win? The courts will look at:
Generally, actions speak louder than words, and the actions of a person's supervisor weigh more heavily than those of a coworker or customer. More frequent behavior or comments creates a stronger case than a one-time event. The courts will also consider what your employer did about it when it found out about the behavior.
Workplace harassment lawsuits rise and fall on the evidence available. All too often, sexual advances are done behind closed doors, without witnesses. Workplace bullying may make it hard to find anyone to speak up for you. Or you may not know who else saw the offensive email or post. To have a strong case, you and your employment discrimination attorney will need to put together evidence to prove the harassment happened, and it was based on a protected trait (like race or sex). To prove your workplace harassment claim you may be able to present:
The more objective evidence you have, the stronger your case. But even a "he said, she said" lawsuit can sometimes prevail.
In real life, rather than on television, most cases result in a settlement. Rather than fighting for your "day in court" and a big dramatic jury result, you may be able to win the relief you need through a satisfying settlement. Depending on your circumstances, and your needs, a win could include:
Before you push to go to trial, be sure to have a conversation with your lawyer about your needs, your priorities, and what a successful resolution will look like for you.
Every workplace harassment case is different. There are facts and circumstances that weigh for and against a plaintiff. There are factors not even listed here that can send your case to the cutting room floor or make it a blockbuster. That's why nothing can replace a full consultation with an experienced employment discrimination attorney. At Eisenberg & Baum, our lawyers are here to help. We will evaluate your case, and the evidence available, to help you determine if you can win your workplace harassment lawsuit. If you think you have a claim, contact us to schedule a free consultation and find out how strong your case is.