Workplace harassment has been an enduring issues in the USA for many decades. You are at this page because:
- You or a loved one has been the victim of sexual assault or rape at the workplace
- Unsure of your legal rights or options, you're in need of answers and to know your rights
- You want to see those who enable the incident to happen be held accountable
The Abuse Guardian team is nationwide, knows this law and is here to help.
Workplaces that enable and allow sexual assaults to occur must be held accountable.
"Thank you." Brian and his staff really took the time to help me during this difficult time.
Workplace sexual harassment is a serious problem which affects both women and men. No one deserves to be subjected to unwanted sexual attention, comments, touching, or sexual assault when they're just trying to bring in a steady paycheck. Unfortunately, predatory employers and co-workers often create hostile working environments for other employees by consistently violating sexual boundaries.
If you've been the victim of harassment, sexual assault, or even rape in the workplace, it's important to know that you are not alone. While the idea of speaking out may seem intimidating and scary, a knowledgeable victims' rights lawyer can help you find justice.
How Is Workplace Sexual Harassment Defined?
Any workplace harassment or discrimination based on sex legally qualifies as sexual harassment. This includes both verbal and physical sexual misconduct which creates a hostile work environment. Additionally, there is another type of sexual harassment called quid pro quo, which occurs when an employee is offered a job or promotion in exchange for sexual favors or is threatened with a demotion, firing, or another disciplinary action if they don't submit to the request.
Any gender can harass or be harassed, and sexual harassment can occur between two people of the same gender. Supervisors, co-workers, employees of other departments, and non-employees who have a business relationship with your workplace can all be guilty of workplace sexual harassment. One dirty joke may not legally qualify as sexual harassment, but serious incidents and repeated patterns do.
Any of the following actions could be defined as sexual harassment:
- Unwelcome touching or sexual advances
- Asking for sexual favors
- Sexual comments about someone's body or clothing
- Frequently telling inappropriate sexual jokes
- Sending unwanted sexual or romantic emails
- Insulting someone based on their gender or sexual orientation
- Repeatedly asking someone out
- Sexually suggestive staring, facial expressions, and gestures
These are just some of the most common examples of workplace sexual harassment. If a boss or co-worker has been behaving in a manner which makes you feel uncomfortable or harassed in a sexual way, you should consider taking action. An experienced victims' rights attorney can help you determine if you have a strong case and help you to hold your employer liable for creating or allowing a hostile work environment.
What Should I Do If I've Been Sexually Harassed At Work?
For many victims of sexual harassment, the idea of filing a report can be scary because of a fear of retaliation. But remember that the law is on your side. It's important to speak out about these acts in order to protect both yourself and other co-workers from future sexual misconduct in the workplace.
If you're thinking about filing a claim, we recommend beginning with the following steps:
- Collect evidence of harassment - Begin taking notes concerning quid pro quo offers, inappropriate comments, touching, etc. Write down the date, time, place, and names of witnesses, if applicable.
- Keep your evidence private - Make sure not to leave your notes anywhere else where your harasser could see them. Don't write them on an office computer - use your home PC or hand write them.
- File a report at work - Report the incident(s) using your company's guidelines for sexual harassment. Legally, you are required to notify your employer of the harassment before filing a lawsuit. Your employer is legally entitled to a chance to remedy the situation. File this report in writing so there is a record of it. If the harassment continues and your employer doesn't do anything to stop it, you may be able to hold your employer liable in a lawsuit.
- File a complaint with the EEOC - If your employer has failed to address your reports of harassment, you may file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. State laws vary, but you must file this complaint within 180-300 days of the alleged harassment. The EEOC will also protect you from employer retaliation.
- Find an experienced sexual harassment lawyer - This process can get complicated and it's usually necessary to have knowledgeable legal counsel to look out for your best interests. This is especially true when there were no witnesses to your abuse. A lawyer can help you gather the necessary evidence and represent you in court to ensure you get the compensation you need
Sexual Assault & Sexual Abuse In The Workplace
When a colleague or employer touches you in a sexual way without your consent, workplace sexual harassment becomes sexual assault.
We're all aware of the dangers of sexual predators, but it's hard to imagine being sexually assaulted or raped on the job. Unfortunately, this happens much more often than we would like to believe. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), in the US there were 36,500 workplace rapes and sexual assaults between 1993 and 1999. If you're one of these victims, you should know that other people have gone through the same thing and that you can recover.
Like other crimes of this nature, workplace sexual assaults are heavily underreported. Many workers desperately need the income and are afraid of losing their jobs if they file a report. No sexual assault survivor should have to fear being punished for reporting the crime. These allegations are taken seriously by the criminal justice system, and the police will be on your side. Additionally, a victims' rights attorney can be a powerful ally and help to guide you through the fight for justice.
How Criminal & Civil Courts Can Help Survivors
Recovering from these traumatic experiences can be a long and difficult process, but holding guilty parties responsible can help you begin to heal. If you've been sexually assaulted or raped at work, you should contact the police as soon as possible. If the crime was recent, resist the urge to wash up or change clothes. You want the police and medical professionals to have the opportunity to gather physical and forensic evidence of the crime. While you're not required to undergo a forensic examination, this is the best way to secure a conviction.
You should also consider speaking with a sexual assault lawyer with a history of representing survivors. In many cases, these crimes occur because of negligence on the part of an employer. For example, your employer may not have done a background check which would have revealed that your attacker had a history of sexual crimes. Or if your attacker had repeatedly sexually harassed you in the past and your employer did nothing to stop it despite being aware, you could also have grounds for a lawsuit.
The criminal justice system takes dangerous predators off the streets and punishes them for their crimes. This is obviously important, but the system doesn't do much towards helping victims. This is why it's necessary to appreciate the value of both criminal and civil court proceedings. Civil trials help victims by providing compensation and by holding employers accountable for negligence. Additionally, the burden of proof is much lower in civil trials, so victims of attackers who were not prosecuted or have been wrongfully exonerated in criminal court may have recourse by filing a lawsuit.