Stop Violence Against Women
Sexual Harassment





7. Remedies for Illegal Conduct

Legal remedies for sexual harassment vary from country to country according to the form of legal protection available to victims of harassment (for example, whether sexual harassment is addressed through laws prohibiting discrimination, through labor laws, criminal laws or civil laws (tort laws).

All countries that prohibit sexual harassment, however, have complaint mechanisms, separate from internal reporting processes, which allow victims to seek a legal remedy.

In countries that have laws specifically prohibiting sexual harassment as a form of discrimination, the purpose of the legislation is to prevent the conduct, and where it has not been prevented, to remedy the consequences of discrimination.

The purpose of a remedy is to, as far as possible, put the person in the place he or she would have been if the discrimination had not existed. When discrimination was a significant factor in the case, the victim is generally entitled to compensation for the consequences of the discriminatory action.

Depending on the severity of sexual harassment complaints and findings of the investigator, remedial actions for sexual harassment may include the following.

Where the person lost an employment opportunity:

        hiring the person for the job or opportunity lost;

        providing the person with the opportunity which was missed to the extent possible;

        providing financial compensation for the lost opportunity.

Where the person has lost wages:

Lost wages may be awarded if the harassment was a significant factor affecting the employer's decision to terminate employment or the victim's decision to quit. In this case, compensation would be for:

        all or part of the lost wages or salary;

        lost pension or other benefits;

        lost raises, overtime, shift bonuses, or higher rates of pay which should have been earned by promotion, etc.;

        any lost wages or benefits which can reasonably be linked to the act of sexual harassment.


As a general rule, all expenses attributable to the enforcement of the person's rights are recoverable. Examples of such expenses include:

        medical expenses, such as psychological care

        travel expenses for attending physician

        preparation of reports and costs of experts' attendance at a tribunal

        travel costs to attend hearing

        wages and/or tips lost as result of attendance at hearing

        in exceptional circumstances, compensation for future costs which are reasonably likely to be incurred, such as future psychological counseling

Compensation for injury to dignity, feelings, or self-respect

Victims of harassment often feel hurt, humiliated, and degraded. The more intimate and personal the nature of the harassment, the more injury to emotional well-being would be expected. Some of the factors which are considered in determining the amount of compensation for injury to feelings in a complaint of harassment include:

        the nature of the harassment; e.g. was it verbal or physical

        degree of aggressiveness/physical contact of the harassment

        ongoing nature; the duration of the harassment

        frequency of the harassment

        vulnerability of the victim

        the psychological impact of the harassment on the victim

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