Once you’ve made the major decision to file a sexual harassment suit in court, there will still be several more decisions you’ll have to make going forward. Each of these decisions are the kinds of things where the advice and counsel of an experienced New Jersey sexual harassment attorney can be invaluable.
For example, at one or more points, you’ll probably have to decide whether you want to settle your case or take it all the way to a judgment. For some people, hearing a judge or jury state that you were harassed and that your employer violated the law may be an essential goal, meaning that a judgment may be more valuable than a settlement where the employer doesn’t acknowledge its culpability. For many people, though, receiving a settlement award that sufficiently compensates them for the harm they’ve suffered may be enough to warrant letting go of their case, as it allows them to get the financial compensation they need, allows them to obtain closure on a frustrating and painful chapter, and also allows them to avoid the time and stress of additional litigation.
S.C. was one of those workers in the latter category. According to a nj.com report, she worked for at one of New Jersey’s developmental centers for men and women with developmental disabilities, providing services to the center’s residents. In December 2016, S.C. received a new assignment to a different cottage within the center.
One of the other workers in that cottage, R.K., allegedly began engaging in a string of unwanted advances toward her. Allegedly, he took her cell phone without permission in order to add his phone number to its contacts list, told her that he was attracted to her romantically and told her that she “could use him any way she wants.” In an even more extreme example, R.K. allegedly cornered S.C. in a break room and told her she couldn’t leave unless she gave him a kiss, nj.com reported.
A harassment target’s complaints are met with inaction
According to S.C.’s lawsuit, she did what one should initially do in a situation like hers: she presented the problem to her supervisor. In fact, she allegedly did so several times. What she allegedly encountered was a lot of words with little action. According to S.C., her supervisor told S.C. to complain to R.K.’s boss. She did. R.K.’s boss, despite knowing of R.K.’s “reputation,” merely told S.C. to complain to H.C., who was R.K.’s boss’s supervisor.
H.C. acknowledged that R.K. had a reputation for sexual harassment, but stated that she was unable to do much other than change R.K.’s work schedule to a different shift than S.C.’s, according to the nj.com report. The supervisor, however, never made any adjustments to R.K.’s schedule, according to the complaint.
When you properly report sexual harassment to your employer on multiple occasions, and the employer does not take appropriate action, it is time to take steps involving the legal system. S.C. hired an attorney and filed an administrative complaint. Even after that filing, the employer merely moved R.K. to a building across the street and never took any disciplinary action against him, leaving him free to “sexually harass his next victim,” according to S.C.’s lawsuit.
All of this evidence of buck-passing and inaction by the employer gave S.C. what looked to be a pretty strong case. As noted above, a survivor of sexual harassment may have many very valid reasons why, even with strong evidence, a settlement is preferable to pursuing her case to trial and judgment. S.C.’s employer offered, and she accepted, a settlement of $150,000.
After you’ve been the target of sexual harassment at work and your employer has taken no action or has taken inappropriate action, the next step is often going to court. For some, that lawsuit filing is the precursor to a settlement, for others it is the gateway to a trial and a judgment. Whatever you decide, be sure you have the benefit of in-depth legal knowledge and advice at every step along the way. The skilled New Jersey sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates have many years of representing New Jersey workers and helping them throughout the challenging and sometimes stressful process of sexual harassment litigation. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how our experienced attorneys can get to work for you.