It is often possible to recover damages for emotional distress in a sexual harassment case in Jackson County, Missouri. A sexual harassment attorney is your best resource when you’re bringing a sexual harassment case, and your attorney will help you understand all the damages you can potentially claim. Be sure to speak to a lawyer about the specifics of your case, and read on to learn more generally about emotional distress in the context of a sexual harassment claim.
What Counts As Emotional Distress?
Emotional distress is a legal term that refers to the mental or emotional suffering that a person experiences as a result of another person’s wrongful act. In the context of sexual harassment, emotional distress can include feelings of anxiety, fear, humiliation, and depression. Legally speaking, there are a number of wrongful acts that can cause emotional distress:
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
This is a type of tort that occurs when a person intentionally causes another person severe emotional distress. IIED can occur in a variety of situations, such as when a person is stalked, harassed, or threatened.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
This is a type of tort that occurs when a person’s negligence, not intentional actions, causes another person severe emotional distress. In the case of sexual harassment, this could happen, for example, if one employee at a company sends out nude photos or obscene memes to everyone in a work chat group. The sender may be guilty of intentional infliction of emotional distress, but the employer may be guilty of negligent infliction if they were aware of the issue (or aware it could be an issue), had the power to block obscene material in the work chat, and did nothing about it.
Battery or Assault
This is a crime that occurs when a person intentionally and without justification touches another person in a harmful or offensive manner. Battery can cause emotional distress, both in the moment and in the long term. Assault is a crime that occurs when a person intentionally and without justification causes another bodily harm. Assault can cause emotional distress, as well. Sexual assault is often the final act after a period of harassment, so it may be possible to request emotional distress damages for battery or assault as part of a comprehensive legal action.
This occurs when a person makes a false statement about another person that damages their reputation. Defamation can cause great emotional distress, and defamation can often be a part of sexual harassment, as, for example, when a harasser gets angry that a victim is refusing to “play along” with unwanted joking and so makes false statements to make the victim seem guilty.
What Qualifies as Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that occurs when a person is subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can occur in any setting, including the workplace, school, or other public places.
In Missouri, sexual harassment is prohibited by the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). The MHRA prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. The MHRA also prohibits retaliation against a person who has complained about discrimination.
To establish a claim for sexual harassment under the MHRA, you must show that you were subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. You must also show that the harassment was based on your sex and that it created a hostile work environment.
The most common federal statute used in sexual harassment cases is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, and age. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees, labor unions, and employment agencies. To establish a claim for sexual harassment under Title VII, you must prove most of the same things mentioned above for establishing a claim under the MHRA.
In addition to Title VII, several other federal statutes may possibly be used to sue for sexual harassment. These include the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Talk to an experienced sexual harassment attorney to learn what laws and acts are best for pursuing your case.
What Are “Damages?”
Damages are a monetary award that is intended to compensate you for your losses. If you are successful in your claim, you may be awarded damages to compensate you for lost work, missed opportunities, emotional distress, and more.
Winning Your Case
Proving Emotional Distress
To recover damages for emotional distress, you must prove that you suffered actual emotional distress. This means that you must show that you experienced a significant change in your mental or emotional state as a result of the harassment. You can do this by providing evidence of your symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. You can also provide evidence of your treatment, such as therapy or medication.
Proving the Connection
In addition to proving that you suffered emotional distress, you must also prove that the harassment was the cause of your distress. This means that you must show that the harassment was a substantial factor in causing your emotional distress. You can do this by providing evidence of the severity of the harassment and the impact that it had on you.
This could include evidence of the frequency and duration of the harassment, as well as the nature of the harassment. For example, if the harassment was physical, you could provide evidence of any injuries that you sustained. If the harassment was verbal, you could provide evidence of any threats or insults that were made using texts, emails, or witness testimony.
Another way to prove that the harassment was the cause of your distress is to provide evidence of your symptoms, like an increase in anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder that coincided with the harassment, as well as evidence of any treatment you have sought for your symptoms. Finally, if you have evidence of any changes in your behavior, such as changes in your work performance or your relationships with others, and this can be tied to the time of the harassment, this can also be helpful.
Work With a Sexual Harassment Attorney in Jackson County, Missouri
It is not advisable to pursue emotional damages on your own without a lawyer. Emotional distress cases can be complex and difficult to win, and it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side who can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights. A lawyer can help you understand all the damages you should be pursuing, gather evidence, file a lawsuit, and negotiate with the other party’s attorney. They can also represent you in court if necessary.
If you have been sexually harassed, contact us at Holman Schiavone, LLC today to discuss your legal options. We can help you to understand your rights and understand whether you should file a claim for damages, including emotional damages, after harassment.