When sexual harassment occurs at the hands of a government official, victims may have the option to file a suit against the state for damages. But the process is not as easy as it may sound. The California Government Claims Act has requirements in place for people who want to sue a government agency on the state or local level.
Requirements for filing under the Claims Act
Failure to properly follow the requirements of the California Government Claims Act may bar you from ever filing your lawsuit. Here are some details of the Act you should know:
- A written complaint. The Claims Act requires that a written complaint be filed with the agency of the perpetrator. Many of these government entities provide specific claims forms, but for those that do not, the claimant may create their own. The written complaint must include your name and mailing address, specific circumstances of the sexual harassment, the name of the employee who caused the injury, and the dollar amount claimed for compensation. It is also important to note that the Act requires an explanation of how the dollar amount was calculated.
- Time limitations. The Claims complaint must be submitted within a specific amount of time. For personal injury matters, including sexual harassment cases, the complaint must be submitted within six months of the injuring incident.
- Opportunity to settle. The general purpose of the California Government Claims Act complaint process is to give the government agency an opportunity to settle the complaint without court involvement. The agency has 45 days from receipt of the complaint to provide a response. Representatives use the details of the complaint to investigate the claim and/or correct the circumstances that led to the injury.
- Right to sue. If the agency rejects your claim, you will be issued a right to sue letter. This notification does not speak to the merit of your case. It simply serves as notification that the agency does not intend to settle your claim. In the event that the agency gives no response within the 45 days, you also have the option of pursuing a lawsuit against the government entity.
In very limited cases, you may be able to file a late claim, but you must first gain permission from the agency. Some of the circumstances that may justify a late filing include:
- Minority age of the victim during the entire six-month filing period
- Physical or mental incapacity
- Death of the claimant
Every lawsuit is challenging, but bringing claim against a California state or local agency can prove extremely difficult without assistance from a knowledgeable Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney. At Taylor & Ring, we have handled numerous claims against government entities across Southern California. Call us at 310-776-6390 or complete our contact form.