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Who is Liable for Sexual Harassment Damages in Philadelphia?

— February 15, 2022

If you file a hostile work environment complaint under the PHRA, your employer can be held accountable if they were aware of the problem and did not take any action.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on certain protected characteristics, such as race, color, sex, religion, national origin, etc. Sexual harassment is a form of sex-based discrimination and all Philadelphia employees should be protected against it. While the law is very clear, in real life things don’t look so good. According to a recent poll, 4 out of 5 Pennsylvania female employee have had to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. Men are not immune to this problem, with 1 in 5 male employees saying they were harassed at work. 

The only way to combat this phenomenon is to stand up for your rights and contact the best Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyers you can find. 

How do I report sexual harassment in Philadelphia?

According to the law, every company operating in Pennsylvania should have a clear anti-discrimination policy and a complaint mechanism known to all employees. The first step is to complain to your employer about the sexual harassment. Your employer is required to investigate your complaint immediately and inform you of the disciplinary actions taken to remedy the problem. Once again, in real life things don’t always go like this. Instead of putting an end to your harassment, the employer might say you’re not a good team player and you’re out for trouble, and they might retaliate against you. In such a case you should inform your Pennsylvania sexual harassment lawyers right away as retaliation is also illegal and you can add this charge to your formal discrimination complaint.

Who is liable for damages in a sexual harassment case?

If you work in Philly, you can file a sexual harassment complaint under the PHRA or ypu can file a federal complaint under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Your lawyers will decide which is the best way to go forward.

If you file a hostile work environment complaint under the PHRA, your employer can be held accountable if they were aware of the problem and did not take any action to stop your coworkers from harassing you. On the other hand, if you were the victim of a quid pro quo and your supervisor demanded sexual favors in return for a promotion or under the threat of termination, your employer is liable for damages whether they knew of the problem or not. However, keep in mind that the PHRA applies only to companies with four or more employees.

Employees Reporting to More Relaxed Workplaces, Anxiety Up
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

If your sexual harassment lawyers advise you to use the Civil Rights Act, you will have to file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If you have a quid pro quo case, your employer can be held accountable regardless of whether they knew or should have known you were harassed by a supervisor or a person in a management position.

As for hostile work environment cases, when an employee is harassed by coworkers, the employer is liable for damages only if they knew or should have known of the problem. If you filed an internal complaint and the employer did take disciplinary actions against your harasser, they will no longer be liable for damages should you file a complaint. 

In both cases, you can recover lost wages (if you were fired or forced to quit), compensation for the mental suffering and punitive damages meant to punish the employer for failing to provide a safe workplace. 

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