Iowa Sexual Harassment Attorneys Assert Victims’ Rights
Holding wrongdoers accountable for dehumanizing treatment in West Des Moines, Ankeny & Sioux City
Although sexual harassment has been illegal for decades, victims seeking remedies for dehumanizing treatment in the workplace have often had to swim upstream against a culture that treated complaints as an assault on the status quo rather than a cry for justice. Then suddenly, several high-profile cases of sexual abuse opened the floodgates, empowering women — and men — to come forward and describe how they’d endured degrading treatment as a condition of employment. Unfortunately, there’s still a great deal of work to be done before we can finally say #TIMESUP for sexual harassment. But at the Hope Law Firm P.L.C., we’re committed to making that day a reality. If you’ve been degraded by sexual harassment in your workplace, come to the employment law firm that offers hope. Our dedicated attorneys will fight for the compensation and justice you deserve.
Basics of sexual harassment law
Sexual harassment is a form of employment discrimination based on sex. There are two basic types of sexual harassment that require a plaintiff to prove different elements of the case:
- Quid pro quo sexual harassment — The Latin phrase meaning “this for that” describes a relationship where a superior conditions certain aspects of the job, such as raises, promotions, or desirable assignments, on how a subordinate responds to his or her unwanted sexual advances. To prove a quid pro quo case, the plaintiff worker must demonstrate that the sexual overtures were unwanted and that offers and threats were made. Evidence that rewards were given for acquiescing or punishments meted out for refusing strengthen the case.
- Hostile work environment — A hostile work environment exists when unwelcome sexualized language and conduct are so pervasive that a worker cannot perform work duties. Again, the victim must not be someone who goes along with or participates in the conduct. Evidence of a worker’s objections to coworkers and superiors is generally necessary to establish the conduct was unwelcome.
A hostile work environment can also apply to abuse based on age, race or color, national origin, religion, disability, and sexual orientation.
Parties who are potentially liable for sexual harassment in the workplace
There are two classes of defendants in sexual harassment actions:
- A direct harasser
- The company
A direct harasser is always accountable to the victim for his or her own actions. The company can be liable if it created a hostile work environment or did not take reasonable steps to correct a hostile work environment. A company that has a mechanism in place for reporting harassment is generally not liable for a hostile work environment until a complaint is filed and the company fails to act.
The company can be liable for a supervisor’s quid pro quo abuse if it does not have a legitimate procedure for processing employee complaints. If a mechanism is in place, for example through a human resources department, the company would not be liable even for a supervisor unless the victim filed a complaint and the company failed to act.
If a victim proves a case of sexual harassment, he or she can recover damages and obtain injunctive relief, including:
- Lost wages due to the harassment
- The value of lost benefits and lost promotions
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages, if the company’s behavior was particularly egregious
- Court order for reinstatement after a wrongful termination
- Court order to promote the worker
- Attorney fees and expenses
At Hope Law, we’re determined to build a compelling case and to pursue all available remedies. We understand that you’ve suffered, and we want to help restore your dignity.
Contact an employment law firm that fights sexual harassment for Iowa workers
The Hope Law Firm P.L.C. takes aggressive measures to help employees recover from sexual harassment in the workplace. To schedule a free consultation in West Des Moines, Ankeny or Sioux City, call 515-255-3559 or contact our office online. On urgent matters, we will do our best to see you within 24 hours.