Damages in a Baltimore Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

November 7, 2017
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

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According to a September 2017 Bloomberg article, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accused Wells Fargo of unlawfully hindering the U.S. Government’s investigation of the company. The investigation centers on the alleged widespread sexual harassment of female employees, according to a federal court filing. The bank is accused of being a hostile work environment for female employees. For instance, there were claims that a supervisor repeatedly stared at a female co-worker’s breasts.

The entire case focuses on a hotly debated question regarding whether the EEOC can continue to probe into alleged workplace discrimination after a case is resolved or dropped. In a previous case involving racial discrimination, a claimant lost a private case against a different company. However, the EEOC was allowed to continue its investigation into the alleged racial bias after the fact.

In the motion filed in September, the EEOC claimed that Wells Fargo refused to hand over personnel files and other documents related to the investigation. The EEOC asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to enforce a subpoena requesting the documents. The bank employee who originally filed the charges privately settled with the bank after the EEOC served its initial request, but she never withdrew her EEOC sexual harassment charge.

Both the EEOC and Wells Fargo declined to comment on the pending court action for the article. Currently, the EEOC’s request for enforcement of the subpoena has not been resolved.

What is Sexual Harassment?

In Baltimore, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.  Generally speaking, there are two main types of sexual harassment.  The first type is “quid pro quo,” which occurs when a supervisory-level employee makes submission to sexual advances a prerequisite to promotion or continued employment in the company.  The second type of sexual harassment is called “hostile work environment,” which occurs when there are unwanted sexual advances or comments that are sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to alter the conditions of employment. Both quid pro quo and hostile work environment sexual harassment are illegal when the behavior is either so severe or so pervasive as to alter the terms and conditions of employment.

Damages Available in Baltimore Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

An employee who is sexually harassed at work can file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.  Before doing so, however, we recommend that they consult with counsel so that their charge of discrimination is drafted appropriately.  Should the employee who has been sexually harassed successfully take their case to court, they could receive a wide range of relief, including, but not limited to:

  • Back Pay: This is the money and value of lost benefits the employee would have received if they had not been terminated, not hired, not demoted, or not passed over for promotion.  Back pay is offset by the amount of wages actually earned during the period of the adverse employment action.    
  • Front Pay:  This is money that compensates an individual from the date of trial going forward for future wage loss occasioned by the discriminatory act of sexual harassment.  Expert analysis is typically required to establish the amount an employee would be owed under this remedy, as it requires insight into how long the discrimination will impact the employee’s career and an analysis of future wage losses.  
  • Punitive Damages: This is money awarded if the company acted with malice. It punishes the company for the sexual harassment of its employees.  Punitive damages are subject to a statutory cap that is tied to the number of employees at the company.  
  • Compensatory Damages: This money compensates the employee for the harm to their reputation, emotional distress, and humiliation.  Like punitive damages, the amount of compensatory damages available to the employee is subject to a statutory cap that is tied to the number of employees at the company.  
  • Attorney’s Fees: If an employee prevails on their sexual harassment claim, which is typically brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the court typically will award attorney’s fees to the sexually harassed employee.

Contact The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, LLC About Your Baltimore Sexual Harassment Claim

If you were sexually harassed at work, we are here for you. You can contact us confidentially via our website or via telephone at 410-514-6099.  

(image courtesy of Aidan Bartos)