To win compensatory damages in a sexual harassment case, the victim has the burden of proving by a “preponderance of the evidence” all of the sexual harassment claims. The defendant has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence all of the facts necessary to establish any defenses it raises at trial. "Preponderance of the evidence" means evidence that has more convincing force than that opposed to it. If the evidence is so evenly balanced that the jury or judge is unable to say that the evidence on either side of an issue is stronger, its finding on that issue must be against the party who had the burden of proving it. The jury or judge will consider all of the evidence bearing upon every issue regardless of who produced it.
To obtain punitive damages, a plaintiff must meet a higher standard of proof than the “preponderance” standard. The standard for an award of punitive damage is a presentation “clear and convincing” evidence. Though higher than the preponderance standard, it is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard applicable in criminal prosecutions.
Not only is sexual harassment illegal. The law also prohibits:
- Racial harassment
- Religious harassment
- Age-based harassment
- Harassment based on disability
- Harassment based on ethnicity or national origin