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Employer Liability For Sexual Harassment/Hostile Work Environment FAQ

When Is An Employer Liable For Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment by its Employee, Manager or Executive.

Employer Liability - Sexual Harassment Laws

The law under which a sexual harassment case is brought is a significant determining factor as to employer liability. Under some laws, an employer is held strictly liable for the conduct of supervisory and managerial employees and harassment by nonsupervisory employees are treated differently. A different statute, forum or administrative agency may afford an employer a defense even in the case of supervisor sexual harassment. However, an employer is held strictly liable in cases of Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment under most laws if the victim loses a tangible job benefit.

The different laws and statutes provide for damages that differ which likely affects a company’s evaluation of the case. For example, some laws only permit recovery of actual and out-of pocket damages while others permit recovery of punitive damages, compensatory damages and attorney’s fees. A jury is also not provided by all of the different laws and statutes. Whether the case is tried to a judge or a jury significantly impacts an employer’s evaluation of the case.

The total number of employees that an employer has often determines what laws apply to them at all. Similarly, where damages are capped, the number of employees typically determines the total amount of damages that a particular employer would be exposed to in the event of a verdict on behalf of the victim.

To understand an employer’s possible financial exposure requires a thorough analysis of the forum where the charge of discrimination is filed as well as the court or administrative agency where the case is pending.

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