How Long Does a Sexual Harassment Case Take?

Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome or inappropriate sexual advances, requests, touching or comments. If you experience sexual harassment in California, you may have the right to file a claim against the harasser and/or your employer in pursuit of financial compensation for your related losses. If you lost wages or employment benefits due to a hostile work environment, for example, you could receive compensation for front and back pay. Find out how long it may take you to resolve a sexual harassment case based on your unique circumstances.

Settlement vs. Trial

Many factors can affect how long it takes to resolve a sexual harassment case in California. However, the main issue is whether the case settles or goes to trial. In a workplace sexual harassment case, some employers in California take allegations seriously and treat their employees fairly. This can result in your employer resolving the issue and offering a fair settlement promptly. In this case, a resolution can typically be achieved in just a few months, without going to court.

Other employers (or their insurance companies) fight sexual harassment allegations and refuse to offer fair settlements to victimized employees. In this scenario, the case may have to go to trial to be resolved. This can automatically add several months or more to the resolution of a case, depending on the schedule at the courthouse. A busier courthouse could lead to a trial being postponed for multiple years.

Factors That Can Affect Your Timeline

Every case is unique. Some have elements that make the case take longer to be resolved, while others can reach settlements in a matter of months. In addition to the possibility of going to trial, many other elements could interfere with your ability to quickly resolve your sexual harassment case in California. They may include:

  • How your employer handles the complaint
  • The length of the investigation
  • Others’ cooperation with the claims process
  • The severity of your losses
  • The value of your case

Even if you want your sexual harassment case to be over as quickly as possible, it is important not to rush the recovery process. This can put you at risk of accepting a low settlement that does not adequately pay for your losses, such as lost wages and pain and suffering. Rather than jumping to accept the first settlement, take your time and work with a sexual harassment attorney to make sure your settlement is fair and reasonable.

Your Deadlines for Filing a Sexual Harassment Case in California

Whether your sexual harassment case goes to state or federal court can also affect your timeline. In general, a federal court case is faster than a claim in the state court. The state court is much busier than federal court, meaning it can take up to 6 years to have your day in a California courtroom. A sexual harassment case in the federal court, on the other hand, is typically seen within 1.5 to 3 years. Both will take longer than an insurance settlement, but it may be worth the wait for the financial compensation that you receive.

If you wish to file a sexual harassment claim with the federal courts, you will file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Federal law gives you 180 days from the last incident of harassment to file this type of complaint. You will have 300 days, however, if you also plan on filing with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH). This is the state administration for sexual harassment claims. Acting quickly to file a sexual harassment case in either court can help you reach a resolution as promptly as possible.

Contact a lawyer in California for more information about your specific case and how long it will take to reach a settlement or jury verdict. A lawyer will do whatever is possible to expedite your claim while protecting your legal interests.