Sexual harassment remains a serious problem. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), 38 percent of women and 14 percent of men report that they have endured sexual harassment on the job. Employees are protected against sexual harassment under Massachusetts law (Mass. General Laws c.151B) and federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964)
This raises an important question: What employment law remedies are available to sexual harassment victims? In this article, our Springfield workplace sexual harassment attorney answers the question by providing a comprehensive a overview of the damages that can be recovered in a sexual harassment claim in Massachusetts.
Understanding the Remedies for Sexual Harassment in Massachusetts
Lost Wages and Loss of Benefits
Lost wages and loss of benefits can be recovered as damages in a workplace sexual harassment claim in Massachusetts. If you were wrongfully terminated because you complained about sexual harassment or if you were forced to quit or resign from your position because you could no longer endure sexual harassment, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages and loss of benefits.
Sexual harassment can cause severe emotional and psychological harm to the victim. As part of a workplace sexual harassment claim under state law or federal law, the victim has the right to seek compensation for the emotional distress that they endured.
Attorneys’ Fees and Legal Costs
An employee who hires an employment law attorney to help them pursue justice in a sexual harassment case has the right to seek financial relief for those expenses. A sexual harassment claim can include financial compensation for reasonable attorneys’ fees and other legal costs.
Injunctive relief is a type of non-economic remedy. In effect, injunctive relief is a court order that requires a party to do (or refrain from doing) a certain action. For example, a form of injunctive relief in a sexual harassment lawsuit could be the reinstatement of an employee who was terminated after complaining about sexual harassment. Alternatively, it could be a court order for an employer to revise its sexual harassment policies to ensure compliance with the law.
Finally, in some limited workplace sexual harassment cases, the victim may be entitled to recover punitive damages. Broadly defined, punitive damages are a form of “penalty” damages that are designed to punish the exceptionally poor conduct of the defendant. They are still awarded to the victim. In workplace sexual harassment cases, punitive damages may be granted if the employer’s conduct is deemed especially “malicious.” The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) cannot assess a penalty of punitive damages, but they may be awarded in a court case.
Get Help From a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Western Massachusetts.
At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC, our Massachusetts sexual harassment attorneys are compassionate, justice-focused advocates for workers. If you or your loved one was subject to sexual harassment on the job, we are here to help you recover the maximum available damages. Contact us now to set up your strictly private consultation with an employment lawyer. From our legal offices in Springfield and Northampton, we advocate for employees throughout Western Massachusetts.