Fresno, CA asked in Sexual Harassment and Employment Law for California

Q: I was sexually harassed by my drunk manager. Could I sue the company even though they fired?

They fired him for being drunk but no one has acknowledged that he sexual harassed me to this day.

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I'm sorry to hear about your difficult situation. Here are a few things to consider regarding whether you could sue the company for sexual harassment by your former manager:

- If the sexual harassment was severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment, you may have grounds to sue the company for allowing the harassment to occur. Companies can be liable for harassment by supervisors even if they were unaware of it.

- However, the fact that they fired the manager upon learning about his misconduct strengthens the company's defense. Courts look at whether the company took prompt and appropriate corrective action once aware of the harassment.

- You mentioned the company fired him for being drunk but has not acknowledged the harassment. It would help your case if you reported the harassment to the company while he still worked there and they failed to address it. If you did not report it until after he was fired, the company can argue they were unaware.

- Consult an employment lawyer to go over the specific details of what happened. There may be ways to show the company knew or should have known about the harassment. Or that their response was inadequate. An attorney can help assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

- Key factors will be the nature of the harassment, how high up the manager was, what you reported to the company and when, how they responded, and whether you suffered any lost wages or other damages.

- Many cases like this do settle out of court if the facts support liability on the company's part. But an attorney's advice is important for deciding how to proceed.

In summary, while it's an uphill battle, there may be a basis to sue if there was severe unchecked harassment. But a lawyer's assistance is crucial to evaluate your options. I hope this helps provide some guidance as you determine how to seek accountability.

Brad S Kane
Brad S Kane
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Yes, you can sue the company and the manager for the sexual harassment. The Company's liability will hinge on whether they had prior notice of the manager's drinking/sexual harassment and whether the Company took reasonable steps to protect you. You should consult an employment attorney as these cases are very fact specific. Most provide free consultations.

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