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  • Sexual Harassment Payouts Are Shockingly Low

    If you think sexual harassment is an American phenomenon, think again.  Sexual harassment almost certainly occurs in workplaces throughout the world, although perhaps incidents of harassment are underreported or less publicized.   Cultural attitudes toward the role of men and women in society probably contribute to these differences and influence how different countries deal with this problem.  Some nations, such as ours, have established legal safeguards to protect the rights of victims of sexual harassment and punish the offenders.  A few nations, on the other hand, do not have a body of law or institutions to resolve these disputes.  But even where sexual harassment is a recognized civil or criminal offense, victims who prevail in litigation are often left wondering whether vindicating their rights was worth the trouble.

    Australia is a nation with sexual harassment laws and a system which allows victims to bring claims against those they accuse of harassment.  But, as in the United States, although a few cases are sensationalized and capture the attention of the press and public, there are far more cases that are litigated outside of the spotlight and which will remain anonymous and inconsequential to all, except for those involved.

    An Australian regional newspaper, the Knox Weekly, recently reported on the relatively paltry financial sums victims of sexual harassment are awarded when they prevail in court against, or settle with, their harassers.  According to a study authored by two Australian university professors, half of all settlements result in financial settlements below $7,000 (presumably Australian dollars), and over 1/3 result in settlements below $5,000.  Ninety-four percent of settlements in sexual harassment cases are for less than $50,000.  Roughly 75% of victims who settle their cases receive financial compensation; the rest must settle for “an apology, [a] statement of regret, or acknowledgment of the harassment,” according to the study.  Other statistics also confirm that the high-profile cases that lead to spectacular financial awards or settlements are more the exception than the rule.

    Moreover, the study was naturally limited by the number of cases filed by victims of sexual harassment.  But the overwhelming majority of individuals who believe they have been harassed at work do not report the harassment.  According to the report, “only sixteen percent of people who were harassed in the previous five years reported it or made a complaint.”  Considering the emotional and financial stress inherent in sexual harassment litigation and their unpredictable and sometimes inequitable results, it is perhaps not surprising that 84% of sexual harassment incidents go unreported.  As one of the study’s authors suggested, “the motivation [to litigate] can’t be money.”

    If you are a victim of sexual harassment, or have been accused of sexual harassment, you should seek the advice of a sexual harassment lawyer in Irvine right away.  An experienced sexual harassment lawyer in Irvine will be familiar with this area of the law and can provide you with sound legal advice and help develop a legal strategy.  Although a sexual harassment lawsuit can be an extraordinarily difficult time for you personally and professionally, a sexual harassment lawyer in Irvine can help you achieve a fair resolution.