Law Office of Alan Kansas, LLC

What is The Statute Of Limitations For Sexual Harassment Cases?


In Louisiana, we call this prescription. The statute of limitations, or prescription, is a deadline to take legal action. The time period begins to run with each act of discrimination or harassment. When talking about Sexual Harassment in Louisiana, we are talking about potentially at least two different laws. Title VII is the federal law and, in Louisiana, requires that you file an EEOC charge within 300 days of the actionable discrimination or harassment. After the EEOC processes and investigates the charge, it issues the charging party a Notice of Right to Sue. The charging party has 90 days from receipt of the Notice of Right to Sue to file a Title VII lawsuit.

There is also a Louisiana anti-discrimination statute that allows an employee to file a lawsuit within one year of the harassment. However, at least thirty days before filing suit, the law says the employee must give the defendant written notice of the alleged discrimination and both parties must make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute prior to initiating court action. Also, under the Louisiana statute, the one year period is suspended for a maximum of six months while the employee has a charge of discrimination under review or investigation by the EEOC of the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.

If the harassment is a continuing violation — meaning that there is a course of related discriminatory conduct that continues over time and at least one of the events occurred within the limitations (prescription) period – the employee can sometimes go back beyond the limitations period and bring in violations that would otherwise be too old.

For employees, the essential point on the statute of limitations is: don’t wait. These deadline issues can be tricky. Talk to a lawyer to make sure that you understand your rights and have a plan.

What Kind Of Damages Is Someone Seeking In A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?

The damages can be broken down into a couple of categories. In any sexual harassment case, an important category of monetary damages is going to be compensation for the emotional damage suffered. This includes mental anguish, emotional distress, embarrassment, and loss of enjoyment of life. It is important to have corroborating witnesses and treating health care providers are often key witnesses. Employees can also seek damages for future loss of earning capacity if their career earning ability has been permanently damaged somehow by the sexual harassment. Under Title VII, there are caps on this type of damage award based on the number of employees at the defendant company. The Louisiana Anti-Discrimination Law does not contain damage caps.

When the sexual harassment results in loss of employment or another decision than causes the plaintiff to make less money than they would have without the discrimination – such as losing out on a promotion – a plaintiff can recover the difference between what they earned and what they would have earned if the employment action had not gone against them. This includes lost wages and benefits from the time of the loss up until the trial, commonly called back pay. In cases of illegal discriminatory or retaliatory termination of employment, Plaintiffs can also seek re-instatement to their former position. If one of the parties convinces the court that reinstatement is not feasible – often because the employee and employer harbor too much animosity toward each other because of the case –the court can award future lost wages and benefits or “front pay.” This is usually limited to the expected loss over the next one to three years after trial.

Alan Kansas, Esq.

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Successful Plaintiffs are also entitled to and award of attorney’s fees. Punitive damages are available under Title VII when the employer acts with reckless indifference to the employee’s legally protected rights. Punitive damages are not available under the Louisiana Anti-Discrimination Law.

In addition to monetary damages, employees can also seek injunctive relief where the court orders the defendant to take actions to prevent future violations such as putting a sexual harassment policy into place or to training employees to recognize and properly respond to sexual harassment in the workplace.

How Long Do Sexual Harassment Cases Typically Take To Be Resolved?

That’s really hard to say. Generally, in Louisiana, I see federal cases being set for trial within a year of filing. (Post-trial appeals can take years to finish.) But how long the whole process takes depends on the parties and the facts of the case. I see a lot of these cases settle rather quickly before any lawsuit is filed where there is strong evidence to support the claim and a finding of liability for the employer is likely. In those cases, there is not much incentive for a company to keep spending money defending a case that it is likely to lose. If the employee takes a reasonable position in negotiations, those cases usually settle. When it is harder to decide who is right, the cases can take several years to resolve – especially where there is a lot of money at stake. Every situation is different. The decisions that employees and employers make early on when the complaint is first being made can set the case toward a swift resolution or lead to lengthy litigation.

What Happens If Someone Delays Filing A Suit In A Quid Pro Quo Scenario?

Technically, as long as a suit is filed before the statute of limitations runs out, there is no effect on the suit. However, delay in initially complaining to the employer about harassment can hurt a case. Where the harassment is done by a manager who does not take any tangible job action against the employee as part of the discrimination, the employee’s unreasonable failure to take advantage of complaint mechanisms made available by the employer to avoid the harm is an affirmative defense available to the employer. Where the harassment comes from a co-worker, customer or some other non-supervisor, the employer is only liable if it knows or should have known about the harassment and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. Thus, the employee’s complaint to the employer and the employer’s response is often key.

What Are Some Dos And Don’ts For People Involved In A Sexual Harassment Scenario?

A few of the mistakes I see employees make in lodging a complaint to the employer are not putting it in writing, and not giving the important facts. In a lot of these situations the employer’s duty is based on what information it knew or should have known. If a complaint is put in writing, there is no debate about what was reported to the company. I have been involved in cases where someone reported harassment verbally, and the person who received the report tells a different story about the details of the report. Also, sometimes employees who are afraid of retaliation will stop short of claiming “sexual harassment” and use vague language like “improper conduct.” This is a bad idea. If an employee is going to complain, they should do it in writing and should explain calmly and accurately what they are complaining about.

For employers, the most common mistake I see is not having a sexual harassment policy to begin with – before a complaint is made. Employers who do not create a policy and distribute it to employees will always have a more difficult task defending these cases. This is avoidable. The second most common mistake is to make rash and emotional response. I understand that accusations of sexual harassment can create all sorts of emotional responses and workplace discord. Remember, employees are protected from retaliation even if their complaint about discrimination was incorrect – unless they were complaining in bad faith. So, do not act out of emotion or jump to conclusions and act before doing a proper investigation to determine the facts.

What Sets Your Firm Apart In Handling Sexual Harassment Cases?

There are a lot of good lawyers that employers and employees can hire to battle for them in court. I am one of them. But the most valuable attorneys are the ones who help keep you from having to go to court in the first place. That is what I offer that sets my services apart. For both employers and employees, I offer legal counsel – advice – on how to best achieve my client’s business and personal objectives. That means using legal knowledge and experience, along with sensitivity to my client’s personal interests, to find the right strategies for avoiding and resolving problems – without the expense or delay of unnecessary litigation.

When sexual harassment is the problem, I help people review the facts to determine where they stand under the law. Then we take inventory of their individual objectives and priorities to come up with the options, and I then I help them choose. We make plan of action. I have seen many employees and employers that ultimately got a bad result because of uninformed decisions. By helping my clients understand the law and how the system works, they know how to pick the right battles and prepare ahead. Many legal battles can be avoided when you have the right evidence.

For victims of sexual harassment, I fully inform them of all the options — not only the options that are likely to put most money in our pockets, but all the options that might be out there for them to move on in their lives and careers and recover from what’s happened to them in the best way that they see.

For more information on Statute Of Limitations For Sexual Harassment, get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (504) 300-0071 today.

Alan Kansas, Esq.

Get your questions answered. Call Now at
(504) 300-0071. I will get back to you soon.

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