The value of a sexual harassment case depends on a number of factors. First, we look at the severity of the sexual harassment. Second, we look at the amount of time you had to endure the sexual harassment. Third, we look at any financial loss due to the unlawful termination. You also have to look at the damages available based on the statute you're suing under. The damages and remedies include lost wages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees. Lost wages are based on how much you earned and how long you were out of work. It can include front pay and back pay. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate you for any emotional distress you may have suffered. Punitive damages are meant to punish the sexual harasser. And, finally, if you prevail at trial, you may be entitled to attorneys' fees, which are based on the amount of hours your attorney worked. Our attorneys have experience calculating and helping you to prepare to prove your damages in court.
New York City Attorneys Skilled in Employment Claims
Each case is different. However, there are some general guidelines that may give you a sense of how much a sexual harassment or discrimination case is worth. Generally, it is believed that employees who win at trial tend to recover greater amounts in employment litigation cases than they do if they settle. However, not every employee wins at trial, so it is necessary to evaluate the risk in each case as well as the time and cost of litigation. Additionally, awards at trial are often reduced. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers can evaluate the reasonableness of a settlement offer, based on how likely it is that you would receive more from a jury than what is being offered. The video on this page explores this topic in more detail.
How Much is a Sexual Harassment or Discrimination Case Worth?
Sexual harassment or discrimination cases are particularly hard to value. Sex discrimination claims that involve a wrongful termination are likely to be worth more than sex discrimination claims that involve a failure to promote. While quid pro quo sexual harassment cases involve tangible economic losses, such as termination or loss of a promotion, hostile work environment cases may not. Generally, quid pro quo harassment cases, which involve the exchange of job benefits for sexual favors, result in higher awards. Employers are not likely to settle a claim that they expect to win or that they expect to result in at most a very small verdict. They are also not likely to settle a claim against an inexperienced plaintiff's attorney, so it is important to choose your legal counsel carefully.
The amount of damages that you may recover depends partly on which type of harm you have experienced due to sexual harassment or discrimination. Economic damages include back and front pay, which is awarded to compensate you for any wages that you lost due to harassment. Back pay is awarded from the date of a negative employment decision up to the date of the judgment, and it may include bonuses, the value of benefits like health insurance, vacation, retirement benefits, and stock options. Under Title VII, back pay is limited to two years from the date that you file with the EEOC. Back pay may be reduced if you do not make enough of an effort to minimize your economic losses by looking for another job. If you find another job, your back pay award will be reduced by the amount of earnings from your new job.
Although you may have a right of reinstatement, many people do not want to return to a job where they have been sexually harassed. Front pay is supposed to compensate you for the wage loss that you will probably suffer from the date of the judgment onward. The jury will look at how long you would have stayed at the job had you not been sexually harassed, as well as how far into the future it will likely take for you to find an equivalent or similar job.
Noneconomic damages or damages based on pain and suffering are supposed to compensate you for the emotional distress associated with sexual harassment or discrimination. In some cases, punitive damages are awarded to punish an employer for intentional harassment, discrimination, or retaliation with malice or reckless indifference to an employee's rights.
Under Title VII, there are limits on how much may be awarded in compensatory and punitive damages, based on how many employees your employer has. If your employer has more than 500 employees, you are limited to $300,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages. Under the New York State Human Rights Law, however, there is no statutory cap on the amount of compensatory damages, but you cannot get punitive damages. There is no statutory cap under the New York City Human Rights Law, and punitive damages may be available.
Discuss Your Case with a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in New York City
If you are wondering how much a sexual harassment or discrimination case is worth, you should consult an employment discrimination lawyer about your situation. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment attorneys can evaluate your case and provide vigorous legal representation as appropriate. Contact us at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form for a free consultation. We fight for the rights of employees in Staten Island, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, Westchester, as well as in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.