Sexual Harassment Victims Are Often Handcuffed by the Legal Obstacles

Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Debra Katz was quoted in a Washington Post article about the obstacles that many victims of sexual harassment face when they seek legal help. The piece, “After ‘Me Too,’ women want justice. Lawyers have bad news for them,” looks at the legal hurdles facing victims, including statutes of limitations for filing workplace harassment complaints, and lengthy legal processes that can take months or even years to work through the system with no guarantee of a resolution.

The social movement sparked months ago has inspired the creation of a number of legal defense funds and organizations focused on representing victims of harassment and assault. But it’s been hard to keep up with the exponential increase in requests for assistance.

“Anyone who works in this area is being deluged with calls,” says Ms. Katz. “It’s everything. My emails at night. People contact me via Twitter, via LinkedIn, via Facebook. It just doesn’t stop.”

Unfortunately, oftentimes there is little that attorneys can do. Many victims reach out to legal resources about harassment experienced years ago, far passed the one-year deadline imposed by numerous states. Add on top of that, the problems with compiling concrete evidence, and the potential issues with finding new employment in some cases.

“Even if they have the most meritorious of claims, they will be perceived as unsuitable or not given real consideration,” explains Ms. Katz referring to human resources departments that are often wary of people who have taken former employers to court.

The social movement has inspired and motivated many to speak up about their experiences with harassment. And while current law may fail to provide adequate remedies for some, #MeToo has still proven that victims of sexual misconduct should not be afraid to tell their stories.