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How Much is My Sexual Harassment Claim Worth in New York?

— April 26, 2022

If you can bring proof that your employer ordered or approved the offensive conduct you may be awarded substantial punitive damages. 

New York, NY – Every employee in New York City has the right to a safe workplace, free from any type of discrimination, including gender-based discrimination, commonly referred to as sexual harassment. According to legal experts, sexual harassment is woefully underreported in New York City and the main reason is that victims are ashamed and humiliated by the treatment they’ve been subjected to, and they are afraid of retaliation. Money is generally the last thing a sexual harassment victim has in mind. Someone who experiences physical or verbal harassment every single day doesn’t care about money. They just want it to stop. However, one needs to talk about money, as it is often the most powerful incentive to make businesses enforce strict anti-discrimination policies. Appealing to their moral sense is all very nice, but the prospect of them having to fork out a lot of money in damages is often the best way to get their attention. If you want to know how much your claim may be worth, you need to contact a seasoned New York sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible. 

How is sexual harassment defined in New York?

According to New York State Attorney General Letitia James, sexual harassment can be defined as unwelcome sexual conduct that:

  • Is used as the basis for hiring or other employment decisions, such as promotions, raises, or job assignments; or
  • Creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

To prove harassment, your lawyers will have to show that the offensive conduct was so frequent or severe that it created a hostile work environment or resulted in an adverse employment decision.

What damages can I get for a sexual harassment claim? 

The state of New York has one of the strictest laws against sexual harassment. Whether you work in a public or private company, you have up to three years to file a sexual harassment claim and the burden of proof your lawyers must bring is less than in other states. Also, and this is very important, there are no caps on punitive damages.

When you file a sexual harassment suit you can claim compensatory and punitive damages. 

Compensatory damages are of two types:

Economic damages – which allow you to get compensation for your financial losses, such as back pay and lost future earnings if you were fired, underpaid, or denied a promotion because you did not give in to your supervisor’s requests for sexual favors.

You're Fired sign
You’re Fired sign; image courtesy of geralt via Pixabay,

Non-economic damages – which are meant to compensate you for your suffering. Only a skilled lawyer can tell you how much your non-economic damages might be worth. This depends mostly on the type of evidence you can produce. If it’s just your word against that of your employer or the coworker harassing you, you can still win thousands of dollars in damages.

However, if you have medical records to back your story, you can be awarded a 6 or even 7-figure settlement. For instance, if you suffered severe emotional distress and talked to your doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist about your problems, you can use this as evidence. Also, if you were prescribed certain medications to cope with stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other related medical issues, your lawyers will be able to build a very strong case against your employer.  

Punitive damages are not automatically available. Your sexual harassment lawyers will have to prove that your employer acted with malice or reckless indifference to your legal rights. If you can bring proof that your employer ordered or approved the offensive conduct you may be awarded substantial punitive damages. 

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