If you were subjected to Sexual Harassment at work, you may be entitled to a settlement or award of compensatory and punitive damages if your employer is responsible for the sexual harassment.
The main categories of damages in a sexual harassment case are:
Back Pay Damages:
“Back pay” is awarded when you have been fired or forced to resign because of the sexual harassment.
Back pay is your total compensation including salary, bonuses, healthcare benefits, contributions to retirement plans, vacation pay, and paid time off. You may recover back pay from the time your claim began until the date of the settlement.
You are required to “mitigate” your damages by making a good faith effort to look for another job. So please keep a record of where you look for work.
Back pay may also be awarded if you were denied a raise or promotion because of sexual harassment. In that case, you may recover the increase in pay you would have received.
Emotional Harms and Losses:
You may be awarded money damages for emotional harms and losses caused by sexual harassment.
Emotional distress damages are awarded to compensate you for emotional harms and losses, as well as related physical impacts. These emotional harms include:
- Anxiety, depression and panic feelings
- strained relationships with family and friends
- loss of enjoyment of life and mental anguish
- anxiety and difficulty sleeping
- clinical depression
- post- traumatic stress disorder
Emotional distress may be through your own testimony and the testimony of family members, co-workers, and friends. The best witnesses are people who knew you well before and after the sexual harassment.
To recover a large damages award, however, you may need medical testimony. This may be provided by a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor you have consulted for treatment of the emotional distress.
Reinstatement or Front Pay Damages:
If you lost your job due to sexual harassment, you may be entitled to be reinstated to the position that you would have held.
In the alternative, you may be awarded “front pay” to compensate you for a loss of compensation that is expected to continue after claim is settled. Front pay awards are based on an estimate of how long you would have stayed with your employer in the absence of the sexual harassment.
Punitive damages may be awarded under certain circumstances to punish your employer and to deter future acts of harassment.
In order to win an award of punitive damages, you must prove that your employer acted with indifference to your rights. This usually requires evidence that your employer was the perpetrator of the sexually harassing conduct, or that your employer was aware of the sexually harassing conduct and did nothing to stop it.
Out-of-Pocket Costs and Reputational Harm
You may recover damages for costs you incurred as a result of sexual harassment such as medical bills for treatment of emotional distress, fees for career counseling, and job search costs. You may also recover damages for harm to your reputation.
Limits on Damages:
Florida limits an award of punitive damages to $100,000. There is no limit under Florida law in the amount of compensatory damages that may be recovered. Caselaw in Florida holds that unless there is medical evidence of harm, an award of compensatory damages for pain and suffering may not be higher than $20,000-30,000, unless special circumstances are present.
Under federal law, the total amount of compensatory and punitive damages you may recover for sexual harassment depends on the size of your employer. Employers with 15 to 100 employees are not required to pay more than $50,000 in emotional harm damages. Employers with 500 or more employees are not require to pay more than $300,000. The federal cap on damages does not apply, however, to an award of front pay.
Attorneys’ Fees and Costs:
We represent our clients on a contingency fee basis. You will not owe any legal fees until there is a settlement or win.
Other Claims and Damages:
Keep in mind that you may have other claims against your employer or the perpetrator of sexual harassment. Additional claims include assault and battery, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
To discuss all your possible claims and damages call us at 813-229-8300 to schedule a free and confidential consultation