Only employers with fifteen or more employees are subject to the protections of Title VII and the Florida Civil Rights Act. Local ordinances may cover employers with fewer employees. If either quid pro quo or hostile work environment can be proven, employers may be liable for back wages, future wages, compensatory damages (pain and suffering damages) and punitive damages. Liability may depend on who committed the harassment (superior or co-worker) and what action, if any, the company took to correct it.
If the harassment is committed by a superior and
- (i) There is tangible employment action (firing, demoting, negative changes in assignments or responsibility), the employer is liable;
- (ii) The harassment is hostile work environment, then the employer is liable. The employer’s defense is that it 1) exercised reasonable care to prevent the harassment and took prompt corrective action to stop it once management was made aware of the issue and 2) the employee unreasonably refused to take advantage of corrective measures.
If a co-worker commits the harassment:
- (i) The employer is liable if it knew or should have known of the harassment, unless the employer took immediate corrective action.
Read more on the services of Mark J. Berkowitz Sexual Harassment Attorney