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January 3, 2024

Average Sexual Harassment Settlement in California [2024 Update]

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

Updated 1/3/24

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious problem that can have far-reaching consequences for victims. It not only affects their mental and emotional well-being but can also lead to lost wages, career setbacks, and even job loss.

Unfortunately, the problem appears to be widespread in California. In a survey from 2019, 86% of women and 53% of men surveyed said that they have experienced sexual harassment at work.

Filing a claim against a perpetrator can be a daunting and challenging process, but it’s essential for victims to understand their legal options and the potential outcomes of their claims. This article aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the current state of these types of settlements in California, with an updated examination of the average sexual harassment settlement amounts for 2024.

By examining sexual harassment settlements, we can gain insights into the legal and financial implications of such claims. We explore various factors that may impact settlement amounts, such as the severity of the harassment, the victim’s employment status, the employer’s response to the harassment, and many other critical factors.

Additionally, we examine how recent legislative changes in California have impacted sexual harassment settlements and what it means for victims seeking justice.

What is the average sexual harassment settlement in California?

The settlement amount for sexual harassment cases in California varies widely and depends on numerous factors such as the severity of the harassment, the nature of the industry, the damages incurred by the victim, and the negotiation skills of the lawyers involved. However, some studies and reports indicate that the average settlement for a sexual harassment lawsuit in California can range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars.

From what we have seen, the average settlement amount for sexual harassment cases in California appears to be around $50,000, which is subject to significant variations based on the specific details of each case.

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What is ground for a sexual harassment lawsuit in CA?

In California, sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination, and it is prohibited by both state and federal law. Sexual harassment in the workplace can take many forms, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Here are some of the legal grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit in California:

  • Quid pro quo harassment: This occurs when a supervisor or employer offers or implies that they will give an employee some sort of employment benefit (such as a promotion or raise) in exchange for sexual favors or other sexual conduct.
  • Hostile work environment: This type of harassment involves behavior that creates a work environment that is intimidating, hostile, or offensive. This can include unwanted sexual comments, gestures, or physical contact, as well as displays of sexually explicit materials.
  • Retaliation: It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who has complained about sexual harassment or who has participated in an investigation or lawsuit related to sexual harassment.

Please note that sexual harassment does not have to be severe or pervasive to be illegal. Even one incident of harassment can create a hostile work environment and can be grounds for a lawsuit. If you believe you have been a victim of sexual harassment in California, you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can evaluate your situation and advise you on your legal options.

How do I start the settlement process?

If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment and wish to pursue a settlement, there are several steps you can take to start the process:

  1. Gather evidence: If possible, gather any evidence that supports your claim, such as emails, text messages, witness statements, or photographs. This can help to support your case during settlement negotiations.
  2. Consult with an attorney: Consider hiring an experienced employment law attorney who can help you navigate the settlement process and negotiate on your behalf. Your attorney can evaluate the strength of your case, advise you on your legal options, and help you understand the potential value of your claim.
  3. File a complaint: If you haven’t already, you may need to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) before pursuing a settlement. Your attorney can help you with this process.
  4. Negotiate with the other party: Once you have filed a complaint, you and your attorney can begin negotiations with the other party to reach a settlement. During negotiations, you and the other party will exchange settlement offers and try to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. It’s important to work closely with your attorney during this process to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.
  5. Sign a settlement agreement: If you and the other party reach a settlement agreement, you will need to sign a written agreement that outlines the terms of the settlement, including any financial compensation, confidentiality provisions, and any other terms of the agreement. Once the agreement is signed, it becomes legally binding, and you can move forward with the settlement.
sexual assault settlement amounts

What factors affect sexual harassment settlements?

A multitude of factors can influence the final amount of a sexual harassment settlement. Perhaps the most significant factor is the severity of the harassment and the harm it caused to the victim. Sexual harassment can inflict substantial emotional and psychological trauma, and the more severe the harassment, the more likely the settlement amount is to be higher.

Furthermore, the length of the harassment can also play a crucial role in determining the settlement amount. The longer the harassment persisted, the more probable it is that the victim suffered lasting harm, and the settlement amount may be higher as a result.

There are other factors that can impact the settlement amount in a sexual harassment case, such as the victim’s emotional distress and mental health effects resulting from the harassment.

In addition, the victim’s lost wages and benefits due to the harassment can also be included in the settlement amount, as well as the size and resources of the company involved. Generally, larger companies with more significant resources may be more inclined to pay a higher settlement amount.

Are there ways to calculate a settlement yourself?

Settling a legal case, especially one involving sexual harassment, is a complex and challenging process. Attempting to calculate a settlement on your own can lead to inaccuracies and may result in an unfair outcome. It’s crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and determine a fair settlement amount.

When evaluating a case, an attorney will consider a variety of factors unique to your situation. The severity and duration of the harassment, the impact it had on your emotional and psychological well-being, lost wages or benefits resulting from the harassment, and the size and resources of the company involved are just a few of the many considerations that must be considered.

With this information, an attorney can help you negotiate a settlement that is fair and just, and that considers the full extent of your damages. By working with an attorney, you can ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve and hold your perpetrator accountable for their actions.

Is there a compensation limit in California?

There is no specific compensation limit in California for sexual harassment cases or any other type of employment discrimination case, though there are limits at the federal level.

The amount of compensation that a victim may be entitled to receive in a settlement or judgment will depend on the specific circumstances of the case, including the severity and duration of the harassment, the emotional and psychological effects it had on the victim, any lost wages or benefits resulting from the harassment, and the size and resources of the company involved.

Although there is no limit to the amount that can be awarded in California sexual harassment cases, federal law does set limits on both compensatory and punitive damages based on the defendant’s number of employees:

  • The limit for employers with 15-100 employees is $50,000
  • The limit for employers with 101-200 employees is $100,000
  • The limit for employers with 201-500 employees is $200,000
  • The limit for employers with more than 500 employees is $300,000

What type of lawyer should you hire?

If you are a victim of sexual harassment in California, seeking legal help is crucial to protect your rights and obtain justice. However, it’s essential to choose the right attorney to represent you in your case. Specifically, you should consider hiring an employment law attorney who specializes in sexual harassment cases.

Employment law attorneys who specialize in sexual harassment cases have the necessary knowledge and experience to handle these types of claims effectively.

They can help you understand the legal process and requirements of your case and provide you with legal guidance and support throughout the process. They can also assist you in gathering evidence, negotiating with the employer or their attorneys, and representing you in court if needed.

How can you increase the odds of winning your case?

There are several things you can do to increase the odds of winning your sexual harassment case in California:

  • Gather and preserve evidence: Evidence can be crucial in sexual harassment cases, and the more evidence you must support your claims, the stronger your case will be. Keep any emails, texts, or other written communications related to the harassment, and make a note of any witnesses who may have seen or heard what happened. It’s also important to document any physical or emotional harm you have suffered as a result of the harassment.
  • Hire an experienced attorney: An experienced employment law attorney can help you navigate the legal complexities of your case and develop a strong legal strategy. Look for an attorney who has experience in sexual harassment cases and who has a track record of success.
  • Cooperate with your attorney: Your attorney will need your help in building your case, so be sure to provide them with all the information they need, respond to their questions promptly, and keep them updated on any developments in the case.
  • Be prepared for the legal process: Sexual harassment cases can be emotionally draining and can take a long time to resolve. Be prepared to stay focused and committed to your case and be patient with the legal process.
  • Take care of yourself: Sexual harassment can take a toll on your emotional and physical health, so be sure to take care of yourself throughout the legal process. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist, and make time for self-care activities that help you manage stress and anxiety.

By taking these steps, you can increase the odds of winning your sexual harassment case and achieving a fair and just resolution.

compensation for harassment

Should You Hire a Lawyer?

Seeking legal assistance is an important step towards obtaining justice and holding the perpetrator accountable in your case.  The legal process, however, can be complex, so it is essential to work with an experienced attorney who can guide you through it.

A knowledgeable attorney can help you evaluate your case, gather evidence, negotiate with your employer or their attorneys, and represent you in court if necessary.

Hiring the right sexual harassment lawyer can help you increase your chances of success and achieve a fair and just resolution for your case. It’s important to note that while monetary compensation cannot erase the harm caused by sexual harassment, it can help victims recover lost wages, medical expenses, and other damages resulting from the harassment. Additionally, raising awareness of this issue is crucial to creating a safer and more equitable workplace environment.

While it’s possible to pursue a sexual harassment claim without an attorney, it’s generally not recommended. Without legal expertise, you may not be aware of all your legal rights and options, and you may not know how to effectively negotiate with your employer or their attorneys. Additionally, representing yourself in court can be difficult and may not result in the best outcome for your case.

Finding the right employment attorney in Los Angeles can be a daunting task, particularly if you are not familiar with the legal system or the various areas of employment law- that is where LawLinq comes in. Our referral service is designed to match individuals seeking legal assistance with experienced and qualified attorneys in their respective fields.

When it comes to employment law, our referral service can connect you with attorneys who specialize in discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, wage and hour disputes, and many other related areas.

By leveraging our extensive network of legal professionals, we can help you find an attorney who has the necessary expertise and experience to handle your case effectively, at no cost to you. If you have any questions about your case, let us know at (855) 997-2558 or through an online referral form on our site today.


About the Author

Jessica Anvar

California Consumer Litigation Attorney Jessica Anvar, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lemon Law Experts California’s leading lemon law firm. She has multiple years’ worth of experience working with both state and federal lemon laws. Her practice focuses exclusively on consumer protection cases. Ms. Anvar received her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. Jessica is very active in her local legal community and has helped thousands of clients across the state of California. She has an outstanding record as a true advocate for consumers.

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