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Compensation in sexual harassment cases rising in the US


images (1)BANGALORE: Former iGate chief executive Phaneesh Murthy’s scandal is unfolding at a time when victims of sexual harassment are receiving higher monetary settlements in the US. While the number of complaints halved to 7,571 in 2012 from 2000, monetary benefits awarded in each case are rising, according to US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Victims received a total of $43 million in fiscal 2012 for 7,571 complaints, compared with $54.6 million in 2000 for 15,500 complaints.

In Murthy’s case, the lawyer for Araceli Roiz-the subordinate who is suing the former iGate chief-has alleged that there has been a violation of the California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. In a similar case, where the Act was violated, a federal jury awarded over $20 million (about 111 crore) in January 2013 to eight former employees of Four Amigos Travel and Top Dog Travel, Inc.

A federal court awarded a whopping $168 million to a physician’s assistant who complained of sexual harassment by her seniors in the cardiovascular surgery department at the Sacramento Mercy General Hospital.

US legal experts said the number of incidents of sexual harassment at the work places is too high for comfort, but they are resolved amicably before they reach the courts.

“Most of the victims opt for an out-of-court settlement as this helps them cut short a long legal battle, are assured of the compensation money and don’t have to cough up much as attorney fees,” they say. However, in India, less than 0.1% of sexual harassment cases make it to the courts. “The biggest advantage that victims in the US have is the contingency fee provision. Under this provision, the lawyer gets paid only if he wins the case,” said Sanjay Kamlani, managing director of 1991 Ventures and former head of a legal process outsourcing firm.

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