Whether we admit it or not, and no matter how those in the position silence victims, sexual assault and harassment are a rampant issue in the workplace. Often, victims are afraid to speak up because they feel powerless and fear that they’d be out of work the next morning. Some are even informed that reporting it can lead to a bigger problem and may cost them their reputation or worse, their life.
Sexual assault includes any unwanted sexual contact, even if it’s just touching your clothing. If you’ve experienced such, stopping it right there and then is suggested. Here are the steps you can take to protect yourself from sexual assault in the workplace.
In many working environments, a person may not realize that their act is sexually offensive to you. So, before anything else, you must first confront the assailant. The first step to resolve the problem is to let the person know of their offensive doing, so look them in the eye and tell about their inappropriate actions. Be bold, but don’t forget to be respectful. If the offensive act is just a genuine touch from your boss or colleague, letting them know how you feel through confrontation will resolve the problem.
If the act doesn’t stop even after communicating that you find them offensive, document and report them following the procedure of your employer. Documenting the details of the assault, including the date, time, and the assailant’s response, is beneficial if there’s a need to pursue a legal charge.
It is also important to report the conduct to the higher management following the detailed procedure of the company, if there is any. Take note of the time limits and any other factors set out by the company. If no procedure is implemented to handle such cases, bring the matter to your immediate supervisor; however, if your supervisor is the assailant, talk with his immediate superior about your complaint. In the workplace, especially if the environment is hostile, it is important to let the management be aware of any sexual harassment or assault complaints.
If the matter is not resolved via the company procedures, you can file an administrative charge with the appropriate agency. Usually, charges are submitted to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or your state’s civil rights enforcement organization, which will conduct an investigation and attempt to resolve the conflict. If in case the complaint is not resolved at this stage and if your report is valid, the agency will provide a letter indicating that you can lodge the matter to the court.
With the right-to-sue letter from the federal or state agency, you may file a lawsuit to the court for any injuries caused by the incident. The most common injury is emotional injuries the victim suffered due to the assault. If you have been harmed physically, you can also present your physical injuries. If the suit is successful, the compensation you may receive include back pay, reinstatement if you lost your job in relation to the incident, damages for emotional injuries, and the payment of costs incurred during the lawsuit such as attorney fees, among others.
Often, victims of sexual assault and harassment are blamed or are told they were asking for it. Aside from emotional harm, they suffer the backlash of the incident in their jobs. If you’re sexually assaulted or harassed at work, consulting a sexual assault attorney is vital to help you tackle the legalities of your case. Contact one today!
Dianna Charles is a promising young law enthusiast that hopes to bring her youthful spirit in her field. She tries to add a refreshing modern take to topics on the legal world that people can learn from and shares them on Dolman Law Group‘s website. Dianna enjoys her free time with friends and family, and loves to cook for them.