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3 Misconceptions About Filing Workplace Sexual Harassment Lawsuits





Fighting against workplace sexual harassment requires a lot of courage and strength. Statistics tell us that 21% of Americans have faced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. As you might expect, 81% of the victims are women.

Sadly, 58% to 72% of victims do not file a formal complaint. It is because there are a lot of misconceptions regarding sexual harassment lawsuits. These are one of the many factors that cause victims to stay silent.

In this article, we will address three such aspects. If you are a victim of sexual harassment or know someone who has experienced it, we hope this article is of help to you.

1. You Need Concrete Evidence to File a Suit

Since most sexual harassment happens in an informal context, such as the break room, victims aren’t ready to record clear evidence. This effectively turns the dialogue into a ‘he said – she said’ situation.

Having concrete evidence when filing a court case is always better. However, it isn’t always a strict requirement. The burden of proof in a sexual harassment lawsuit is typically based on the “preponderance of the evidence”.

That means you need to provide enough evidence to convince the court that it is more likely than not that the alleged harassment happened to you. This can be tricky to prove, especially in ambiguous contexts like quid pro quo sexual harassment.

The Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak explains that the phrase used above is Latin for “this for that.” An easy way to understand this type of harassment would be a manager expecting sexual favors in exchange for allowing the victim to claim a bonus or keep their job.

To aid in locking your abuser down, there are certain types of evidence that you can use, even if you don’t have smoking gun evidence. This includes documenting each incident with the date, time, location, and detailed description of what occurred. If you have any form of email or chat history to back this up, even better.

Witnesses are also another compelling form of evidence. Your abuser could have also harassed other people. If you find out that a co-worker has experienced the same abuse, convince them to come forward with their experiences. This will make your case becomes even stronger.

A record of your complaints to HR is also a solid piece of evidence. Remember to make copies of the entire communication, and not just from your side. Your lawyer may also suggest other actions you can take to make your case stronger. Follow their advice, and you should be set.

2. The Harassment Isn’t Serious Enough to File a Lawsuit

This is another common misconception. Some people feel that since the abuse they endured wasn’t physical, “it isn’t bad enough” to seek legal action against them. Non-physical forms of sexual harassment can be just as harmful to victims.

Sexual innuendos, explicit messages, and blackmail can all create a horrible work environment that leaves long-term emotional scars.

Many victims end up going to therapy for years to deal with the real-world impact that non-physical sexual harassment has had on them. It is so important to challenge this notion that only physical forms of harassment warrant legal action. When the psychological impact can drive people to self-harm and even suicide, it is disrespectful to think otherwise.

3. There Is No Time Limit To Report The Harassment

You can thank the media for this one. October surprises during presidential elections make people believe that you can wait years or decades before initiating legal action against someone.

In most jurisdictions, there exists a legal concept known as the statute of limitations. It sets a time limit beyond which you lose the right to seek legal recourse.

Each jurisdiction has its own deadlines, which can range anywhere from one to six years. With that said, the growing awareness about the psychological impact of sexual abuse has caused some states like New York to remove the time limit for bringing forth a lawsuit for sexual harassment.

However, even if you live in New York, it is best to file a lawsuit as early as possible. The more you delay, the more difficult it is to be believed or taken seriously.

This is particularly true if you work in a competitive field. It is unfortunate, but people will try to frame your accusations as an attempt to hurt their careers. Be proactive, and file your case the moment your lawyer advises you to.


Your workplace should be a space of professionalism and appropriate relationships. No one, man or woman, should have to be subjected to harassment by a co-worker or a superior. It is you who decides what you are comfortable with – not human resources, your ‘friends,’ or anyone else.

These people might tell you that harassment happens in every company and that you need to deal with it. But that is not true. Does sexual harassment occur in many companies? Indeed, it does. Does it mean you should contribute to the culture of normalizing it? Never.

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