Some of our largest settlements and verdicts come from sexual harassment cases. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination and occurs in all industries and at all levels of seniority. Wigdor LLP has successfully represented both executives of Fortune 100 companies as well as minimum wage earners in their fight for justice against sexual harassment.
Federal, state and (in some cases) local laws prohibit sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can generally be categorized into two general forms. The first is called “quid pro quo” which is Latin for “this for that.” Quite literally, it means if a supervisor asks, requires, suggests or even implies that you need to provide sexual favors in exchange for job benefits (whether it’s working conditions, pay or any other type of promise). “Quid pro quo” sexual harassment is unlawful. In fact, even if individuals are involved in a relationship or activities that are consensual to some degree, a supervisor may still be engaging in unlawful sexual harassment. “Quid pro quo” sexual harassment, even if an individual has willingly participated in certain categories of behavior, does not mean the individual has consented to a hostile work environment and does not mean such individual’s rights have not been violated.
The other type of sexual harassment is generally called “hostile work environment.” This type of sexual harassment occurs when a supervisor or co-worker initiates unwelcome sexual conduct, advances, discussions, jokes, and/or verbal or physical harassment. Sexual harassment cases are often proved through documents, emails, instant messaging, video, telephone voice mails and the testimony of other employees who are witnesses or were also subjected to similar conduct. However, even in the absence of documentary evidence or witnesses, sexual harassment cases can – and very often are – established solely through a victim’s own testimony about the conduct at issue. As with “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, even if an individual has willingly participated in certain categories of behavior, it does not mean the individual has consented to a hostile work environment and does not mean such individual’s rights have not been violated. If you think you may have been subject to “hostile work environment” sexual harassment, you should speak with an attorney who can advise you of your rights.
Sexual harassment causes significant harm. This harm can come in the form of monetary loss; for instance, if an individual is denied promotions, bonuses, job opportunities or is terminated under circumstances arising from sexual harassment. In fact, an individual can even claim monetary losses if she voluntarily resigns from work because the sexual harassment was so egregious. Sexual harassment also causes emotional harm, which can have a severe impact on an individual’s health and well-being both in the present and the future. Very often, victims of sexual harassment feel the need to get professional mental health treatment. It is important to speak to an attorney to better understand your rights and advise you on the proper course of conduct.