Two former employees filed a lawsuit against Zales, the jewelry retailer, claiming that they were sexually harassed by their supervisor. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ supervisor subjected them to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment by physically touching them, staring at their bodies, and making inappropriate comments (of a sexual nature).
The plaintiffs claim that they rejected the supervisor’s advances and reported his behavior to Zales. Subsequently, both employees resigned from their positions claiming a “constructive termination” resulting from the sexual harassment which resulted in the creating of a hostile work environment. The plaintiffs claim that their damages include lost wages and emotional suffering. As such, they are seeking full recovery for theses losses together with punitive damages, costs and attorneys’ fees.
How employers should respond to allegations of sexual harassment
The first thing you should do if you are subjected to sexual harassment at your workplace is to notify a supervisor or a human resources representative (preferably in writing). You should make sure that your complaint is well documented. Intentionally or otherwise, often times the representatives for the Employer will not recall undocumented complaints. Once your employer becomes aware of sexual harassment, they are legally required to take action in a swift and impartial manner. If they fail to respond to your demand, they becomes financially liable for the damages you suffer as a result of the sexual harassment. Unfortunately, all too often, not only do employers refuse to acknowledge an employees’ complaints of sexual harassment, they further torment and punish the employee by way of retaliation (which could but does not necessarily have to involve termination from employment).
Hostile work environment sexual harassment
Sexual harassment claims often result in the formation of a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is created when an employee is subjected to unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate behavior, and/or lewd remarks that unreasonably interfere with his or her work performance. In the Zales case, both employees alleged that the supervisor’s pervasive harassing behavior and Zales less than adequate response, resulted in the formation of a hostile work forcing them to quit.
Can emotional suffering alone be used as justification for a lawsuit?
When a sexual harassment case ends in the victim’s termination (constructive or explicit discharge), he or she can sue for the lost wages they will incur. However, individuals do not need to suffer an economic loss to sue for monetary damages. The emotional distress that victims of sexual harassment suffer can be ample grounds for a lawsuit in and of itself. If you are unsure as to whether your situation would be considered unlawful sexual harassment in court, contact us right away for legal advice.
Contact a lawyer at the Akin Law Group for help
If you believe that you have experienced unlawful sexual harassment at your workplace, contact a lawyer at the Akin Law Group as soon as possible for help. Our lawyers have extensive experience with city, state, and federal employment law, and are ready to answer your questions. Call us today at 866.685.5163 to schedule a free consultation.