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What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Sexual Harassment Claims?

To pursue a sexual harassment claim in the state of Michigan, you have to exhaust all available administrative remedies. This means you have to take your complaint up with the proper authority, i.e., the EEOC, and you have 365 days to do so because of the Elliott Larson Civil Rights Act.

However, you really need to look at your employment contract or handbook because some employers can lessen that timeframe for you to file an action, and that can create a lot of problems for people.

It’s very important that if you are subject to sexual harassment, especially if you’ve been demoted, fired or disciplined for even speaking out about the harassment, that you need to report this action to your employer.

If your complaint does not result in any changes then you should consider filing a charge with the EEOC. You don’t have to go through an attorney to file a charge with the EEOC; it’s just that an attorney can help you clarify and draft the charge so that it’s most beneficial to your case.

What Types Of Damages Are Generally Awarded In A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?

The type of damage award depends on what happened. The most common claim is a hostile work environment. However, employees should report sexual harassment to the employer to give them a chance to correct the actions.

If you report the harassment to your employer, the employer will sometimes punish you for that, which is very unfair. This constitutes retaliation. Retaliation is a lot easier to prove than sexual harassment. So the most valuable cases tend to involve claims where written proof of both sexual harassment and retaliation claims are in possession of the employee.

If there are no witnesses to the harassment or if there are no writings that support the claim, then it is more likely that damages available will be lower. This is because any verdict will likely come down the credibility of the claimant.

Damages depend upon whether the employee has filed a state or federal lawsuit.

If filed under federal law an employee that wins at trial may recover compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, back pay, “reasonable” attorney fees, and reinstatement or front pay. 42 USC 1981a(b), 2000e-5(g). Compensatory damages include economic losses, emotional distress, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses.

An employee that prevails at trial on a state law, Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act claim may be awarded reinstatement, back pay and front pay, emotional distress, and “reasonable” attorney fees. MCL 37.2801(3), .2802.
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A back-pay award redresses the plaintiff’s economic injuries suffered as a result of the unlawful employment practice, breach of contract, or tort. The award can include salary, any raises that the plaintiff would have received, sick leave, vacation pay, and pension benefits or other fringe benefits that would have been received except for the discrimination.

Back pay is from the date of discharge (or adverse action) to the date of trial with a reduction for any pay received in the interim period.

To prove existence of emotional distress damages an employee must have a physical manifestation of that emotional distress. So for example, if the harm suffered causes you to not be able to sleep at night, you might have circles under your eyes or might yawn a lot.

While a victim of sexual harassment can always testify to the existence of the emotional distress it is best for the most egregious cases to get some type of doctor’s report or medical evidence to prove your damages. You can also get back pay and attorney’s fees awarded, which are very important aspects of this because these are cases that could go on for a long time; and if the victim has been fired, they don’t have the money to pay for an attorney.

Under federal law, punitive damages are available to an employee who suffered sexual harassment, but these punitive damages have limits. The following is a list of punitive damage awards :

Size of Employer Maximum Punitive Damages
Less than 101 employees $50,000.00
101 to 200 employees $100,000.00
200 to 500 employees $200,000.00
500 or more employees $300,000.00

Who Can Be Held Liable In Sexual Harassment Claims?

The individual who performed the harassment can be held personally liable. However, that individual might not have the money or the insurance to be able to pay for the damages. Typically, the employer will have some type of insurance to pay for these types of claims. It is best to exclusively proceed against the employer in most circumstances.

For more information on Statute Of Limitations For Harassment, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling [number type=”1″] today.