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What Makes A Sexual Harassment Case

What makes a "good" sexual harassment?  Obviously, no sexual harassment is good, but when it comes time for an attorney to decide whether to gamble his time and money on a case, some cases are better bets than others. What makes a good sexual harassment case is not necessarily intuitive.  Sexual harassment law, while based on statute, has been developed by judges trying to balance the interests of victims against those of companies with rogue managers who violate the company's sexual harassment policy. Consequently, I thought it might be helpful to identify what make a case more easily winnable than others. Here's some to of the things we look for and why. 1. A big company. This is an important consideration because the federal and Texas statutes governing sexual harassment claims limit the amount of damages a victim of sexual harassment can recover for mental anguish and punitive damages combined based on the number of employees in the company. The limits are: 15-100 employees ($50,000); 101-200 ($100,000); 201-500 ($200,000); 501+ ($300,000). Because sexual harassment cases are often more about mental anguish than lost wages, the size of the company becomes an important consideration. 2. Sexual harassment by a manger. The higher level the manager the better, and if the sexual harasser is the president or CEO, even better. This is because companies will generally be responsible for the conduct of its managers. If the sexual harasser was a coworker of the victim rather than a manager, the victim may have to show she reported the sexual harassment and it continued or that the company knew or should have known of the sexual harassment and failed to prevent it. 3. Touching or groping. For hostile work environment sexual harassment claims, a victim must show conduct of a sexual nature so severe or pervasive that it altered the terms and conditions of employment and created a hostile or abusive work environment. Courts grapple with line drawing in sexual harassment cases. They don't want a company having to defend a lawsuit because a boorish manager made one or two sexual remarks, but neither do they want to leave victims of sexual harassment without recourse. If a sexual harassment claim consists of only a few sexual jokes or remarks, it is more difficult to show severity or pervasiveness. Touching and groping is obviously more severe and more likely to pass muster. 4. Other victims. By the time someone calls my office to complain about a sexual harasser, it's likely she is not his first victim. We almost always look for other victims and often find them. The truth is the more aggressive the sexual harasser is, the more likely it is he's gotten away with it in the past and has been emboldened by the lack of consequences to his actions. Finding other victims helps prove the conduct complained-of actually occurred and that the company was lax in not preventing it. It also frees up juries to award the victim the full amount of her damages. Just because you don't have all these factors in your case doesn't mean you don't have a case. We've done very well in the past for victims who didn't. But if you have all these factors, you shouldn't be afraid to call a lawyer because it's likely you have a good case and by asserting a claim you could protect others from becoming victims. GSF

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