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Should you accept a settlement for your harassment claim?

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Firm News |

Harassment at work can cause you many problems. It puts your career and livelihood at risk and can affect your mental health.

Workplace harassment often leads to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. When you finally stand up for your rights as an employee and say something, you are taking a step in the right direction.

Understanding workplace harassment

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment is unwelcome conduct in the workplace. The harassment can be based on many factors, including, race, religion, age, sex or national origin.

When the harassment is continuous and severe enough that it creates a hostile work environment or if keeping your job means continuing to put up with harassment, you may have a right to compensation with a workplace harassment claim.

As part of the process, your employer will likely approach you with a settlement offer. However, you might not be sure if you should accept the offer.

It is natural to feel tempted to accept an initial settlement offer from your employer to put the issue behind you, but this could leave you receiving less than you deserve.

You might also feel like you won if your employer offers you a settlement, but if your employer considers the number low, it might be a victory for them. Your harasser may never face any additional consequences and your employer might be happy that all they had to do was pay to make the claim go away.

What to consider before accepting a settlement

Each case is different and yours is unique to you and your situation. Usually, there is no magic settlement number that means the settlement is right, but you should accept a settlement only if the number seems fair and provides you with a sense that justice was served.

Generally, if the offer appears low or you feel disappointed in the number, you should consider turning it down. Remember that turning down an initial settlement offer does not mean that you will end up in court.

You and your employer will still likely engage in negotiations. You may be required to participate in some type of dispute resolution process, such as arbitration or mediation, to reach a settlement before heading into a courtroom.

Despite your best efforts to negotiate and resolve the case, your employer might not be willing to offer anything better than their initial low number. If they appear to be negotiating in bad faith or uninterested in a fair resolution to the claim, it could be time to take your case to court.

There are no guarantees in court

Sometimes courtroom litigation is the right choice. However, you should not make this choice lightly. There are pros and cons to going to court versus accepting a settlement, even a settlement that is less than perfect.

Court proceedings involve additional costs, such as filing fees, and it is always important to remember that leaving the decision up to a judge could result in a worse outcome.