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What Can I Do About Pornography At Work? Best Sex Harassment Lawyer Reply!

| Feb 6, 2015 | gender-discrimination, Sexual Harassment |

Best Ohio Sexual Harassment Attorney Answer: What should I do if my boss acts in a physically aggressive and sexual manner? Can my employer ignore my complaints about sexual harassment? If I quit because of sexual harassment, can I sue my employer for lost wages? Is it sexual harassment if I’m exposed to pornography at work?

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Under Ohio R.C. § 4112.99 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, unwarranted comments or requests of a sexual nature in the workplace will be considered unlawful sexual harassment. To make a claim of sexual harassment hostile work environment, the sexual harasser need not your boss, manager or supervisor. Under these sexual harassment law, a sexual harassment hostile work environment claim can be made when your company knows and allows a co-worker or even a client of the company to act in a sexually harassing manner. Sexual harassment claims can generate a large verdict even if there is little economic damages or if you are forced to quit your employment.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected to a prior decision regarding when a judge in that jurisdiction could reduce punitive damage awards in employment discrimination cases. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals returned their decision on the punitive damages sitting, “en banc.” The term, “en banc” is a French term which literally means, “on the bench,” and in this sense signals that the case was heard by all eleven circuit court judges. This is important from a procedural standpoint because of the conflicting opinions rendered by the district court (who heard the case at trial) and the appellate court decision rendered by a panel of only three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

I want to sue my boss for sexual harassment. Call attorney Brian D. Spitz and the employment discrimination lawyers at The Spitz Law Firm for a free initial consultation regarding your sexual harassment and gender discrimination claims.

By way of background, the sexual harassment lawsuit occurred when Angela Aguilar filed a claim of sexual harassment, retaliation, and constructive discharge against her former employer, Asarco. Asarco is an Arizona company that owns a copper mine and a mill that processed the copper ore. Aguilar originally worked in the mill where she claimed that her supervisor, a large man standing at about 6’2” tall and weighing approximately 350 pounds told her that he was romantically interested in her and pursued her daily. Aguilar alleged that when she asked for help he would stand extremely close her and press his body up against her. When Aguilar rebuffed his advances, she claimed he failed to answer her questions, or provide help or training. Aguilar complained, but nothing was done.

Aguilar then bid on a position in a different area. In the new position, she worked in a part of the plant that did not have bathrooms for female employees. The company rented a portable toilet and Aguilar alleged that male Asarco employees added to the décor in the bathroom with pornographic pictures meant to target Aguilar. After Aguilar complained numerous times about the images, she alleges that nothing was done to remedy the situation. One time the company removed the graffiti, but it was copied onto the next unit and remained present in some form for close to another year. Aguilar claims that she transferred again following Asarco’s lack of correction regarding her complaints. This time, Aguilar’s new supervisor told her, “your ass is mine,” “watch yourself” and that he was going to be spending more with her than his, “lady.”

Aguilar’s case was heard by a jury who returned a verdict for in her favor for only $1.00 in nominal damages, $868,750 in punitive damages, and $302,950.75 in attorneys’ fees and costs. The trial judge reduced the punitive award to $300,000, the limit imposed by the federal statute. The panel of appellate judges further reduced the award to just $125,000 based on an analysis of a framework of factors from a United States Supreme Court case meant to limit excessive punitive damage awards.

But wait, a court of appeals decision, which is determined by a random draw of three judges in the appellate district, that decision can be reconsidered by all of the appellate judges in that district in what is called an en banc panel review. Essentially, en banc is derived from French and means “full bench” on “in the bench.” In the full appellate court’s review of the prior decisions, the full panel of judges overturned the panel’s decision to limit the award, and agreed with the district court’s decision to impose the full award available under the cap. The court reasoned that the large punitive award was justified because of the reprehensibility of the alleged conduct, the type of harm that can be caused by the behavior and the failure of the employer to correct the behavior. The court found that although juries in the Ninth District do not have carte blanche to deliver unlimited punitive damage awards, in Aguilar’s claim:

the award is consistent with, and in some cases smaller than, punitive damages awards in other Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 cases we have considered. See, e.g., Zhang v. Am. Gem Seafoods, Inc., 339 F.3d 1020, 1045 (9th Cir. 2003) (upholding a $2.6 million punitive damages award in response in a § 1981 racial discrimination case); Swinton v. Potomac Corp., 270 F.3d 794, 817–20 (9th Cir. 2001) (upholding $1 million discrimination award).

In sum, we conclude that punitive damages awards conferred under § 1981(a) comport with due process. The statute provides specific notice of proscribed conduct. It specifies the maximum amount of damages that can be awarded, and incorporates both specified compensatory and punitive damages within the cap. The $300,000 dollar amount of the cap provides an extremely limited potential for recovery, and has not changed, nor been adjusted for inflation, since its adoption in 1991. There is nothing in our consideration of the Gore factors that would alter that conclusion. The record supports the district court’s conclusion that the punitive award was made in conformance with the statute and was not otherwise in violation of due process.

Although Aguilar filed suit in Arizona, the scenario does not differ much for employers and employees in Ohio. In fact, we have discussed many situations in previous sexual harassment blogs, where employees receive substantial awards after losing a job due to sexual harassment or reporting sexual harassment. Many of these cases involved an employee who has alleged that his or her employer treated coworkers of a different gender more favorably based in part on gender or the fact that he or she complained about harassment. For Ohio employees, state and federal laws are in place to protect workers from this type of behavior, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as Ohio R.C. § 4112.02.

Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar Ohio laws. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. If you feel that you are being sexually harassed or are working in a sexually charged or hostile working environment, you should not wait to call the right attorney at (216) 291-4744 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At The Spitz Law Firm, you will meet with a sexual harassment lawyer/hostile work environment attorney to find out what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them. Sexual harrassment is a form of gender discrimination, and employers should be held accountable if they discriminate against female workers in any fashion – but particularly for sexual harrassment. It does not matter if you have been wrongfully fired or are still employed, there is no reason to wait to find out what your legal rights are and how to protect yourself from sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Disclaimer:

The materials available at the top of this page and at this gender discrimination, wrongful termination, and sex harassment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking “what should I do …”, “I’m being sexually harassed …” “my supervisor grabbed my…”, “my boss is touching…,” “I’ve been wrongfully terminated,” or “how do I …”, your best course is to contact an Ohio sexual harassment attorney/hostile work environment lawyer to obtain advice with respect to sexual harassment/hostile work environment questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through this employment law website are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.