Sexual Harassment or Assault
Have You Experienced Sexual Assault or Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment and sexual assault have recaptured the national spotlight thanks to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. Thousands of survivors have come forward to share their stories. However, despite the powerful impact of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, and its help in shedding light on an important issue, thousands of people continue to be sexually harassed or assaulted in the workplace or at school. Victims may be taunted with sexual comments that make their workplaces and classrooms a hostile environment. In other cases, individuals are sexually assaulted, and can suffer serious physical and psychological injuries. Fortunately, survivors of sexual misconduct have rights that can help bring the perpetrators to justice.
Understanding Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can occur anywhere. Survivors of sexual harassment may experience unwanted verbal or written comments of a sexual nature. These incidents are typically not isolated, and may occur over a period of days, months or even years.
In a work environment, a supervisor may seek to use his or her authority to provide gifts or promotions in exchange for sexual favors from an employee in a lower position. This is known as “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, which means “this for that.” Survivors of sexual harassment may feel forced to take sick leave, withdraw from classes, or quit their jobs. Sadly, these individuals may not realize they have federal and state rights that can hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions.
In other cases, survivors may experience unwanted touching, or worse, rape. Sexual assault can lead to physical injuries, as well as psychological disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Sexual harassment and assault have negative effects on the workplace as a whole, leading to higher turnover rates, increased absences and expensive legal costs. These consequences can affect an entire company, so it is important for employees and contractors to report instances of sexual harassment or assault.
What Legal Rights Do Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Survivors Have?
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 offers many employees protection from sex discrimination, including sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employers with 15 or more employees from engaging in unwanted verbal or physical sexual conduct. Title VII also applies to federal and state governmental organizations. States also have laws that apply to sexual misconduct in the workplace. For instance, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (also called FEHA) offers protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Contact Grant & Eisenhofer if you have questions about sexual misconduct laws in your state – we vigorously advocate for our clients’ rights under applicable federal and state laws.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination, sexual assault and sexual harassment on campuses that receive funds from the federal government. Most institutions receive some amount of federal funds. If these institutions receive any federal funding, then they must abide by Title IX. It does not matter if the school is public or private. Students or staff at these institutions who are affected by sex discrimination or sexual harassment can file Title IX complaints with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Call Grant & Eisenhofer’s Civil Rights Group to learn more.
Reporting Sexual Misconduct and Retaliation
Students, educational staff and employees have a range of options for reporting sexual misconduct. For instance, there are state and federal agencies that may opt to investigate claims of sexual harassment or discrimination. Law enforcement may investigate instances of sexual assault.
In some cases, survivors may experience retaliation after filing these claims with the authorities. For instance, a survivor of workplace sexual harassment may experience a demotion or even termination for filing a claim. Fortunately, the law forbids employers from undertaking these actions. Employees who are filing sexual harassment or assault claims are engaging in a legally protected activity. Employers cannot retaliate against employees who are engaging in legally protected activities.
Filing a Lawsuit for Sexual Harassment or Sexual Assault
In addition to physical and psychological damage, survivors of sexual misconduct may also suffer permanent damage to their careers and close personal relationships. As a result, survivors may suffer a severely reduced quality of life.
Depending on the circumstances of your situation, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your damages. Filing a lawsuit also acts as a deterrent against future instances of sexual misconduct, and in some cases, can even change laws. It is not only legislators that have a significant role in changing the laws of our society for the better—attorneys and their clients also participate in this process.
Contact Grant & Eisenhofer Civil Rights Attorneys for a Consultation
Grant & Eisenhofer’s civil rights attorneys can help you determine if you have legal options to file a sexual harassment or sexual assault lawsuit. Call (855) 244-2031 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation.