Michael D. Lindsey knows you have questions about sexual harassment and is pleased to provide you with accurate answers. Some of the most commonly asked questions about this area of law are discussed below.
If you would like to discuss whether you may have a viable sexual harassment claim, the firm of Michael D. Lindsey in Bowling Green is eager to hear from you. I have more than 25 years of experience assisting Kentucky clients in a wide range of legal matters. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling me at 270-282-4710 or contacting me online.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination in the workplace. As with all types of job discrimination, sexual harassment consists of unequal treatment of employees based on personal characteristics — in this case by offensive conduct based on sex. It may be carried out by promising an employee job advancement for bestowing sexual favors or threatening negative consequences for refusing a supervisor’s romantic advances. It can also take the form of a hostile work environment.
A hostile work environment consists of a continued pattern of offensive conduct by managers, employees or others. It amounts to sexual harassment when it is severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would consider it intimidating, hostile, abusive or that enduring it is a condition of employment. Examples are sexual jokes, comments about a person’s sex, unwanted physical contact with others and display of written or graphic materials of a sexual nature. These actions can constitute a hostile workplace regardless of who does them, so long as the company management tolerates them.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the main federal law that protects employees from discrimination on the basis of their race, color, religion, national origin or sex. Courts have interpreted this law to also prohibit sexual discrimination in the workplace. This law applies to employers with 15 or more employees as well as to federal, state and local government employees.
The Kentucky Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination on the basis of national origin, race, color, age if over 40, religion, disability or sex. This includes sexual harassment. The Kentucky Civil Rights Act covers smaller employers than the federal law, applying to companies with eight or more employees in Kentucky for at least 20 weeks in a year.
Under federal law, you must file a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You usually have 180 days or six months from the date of the incident to file. The EEOC may try to resolve the case itself or may bring its own lawsuit against the employer. If it does neither, it dismisses the case and issues you a “right to sue” letter that allows you to file court case.
Under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, you may file a claim with the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights or file a lawsuit in court. Often, complaining victims choose to go to the commission first and file a lawsuit if they are unsuccessful. Kentucky claims are subject to a five-year statute of limitations.
Under federal law, victims of sexual harassment can recover lost wages and benefits and can also seek injunctive relief, such as job reinstatement. You are also entitled to reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and court costs. Punitive damages as well as damages for pain and suffering may also be available but are capped based on the number of people the company employs. Under Kentucky law, damages are limited to the actual damages sustained, which means lost wages and out-of-pocket costs. Punitive damages are not available.