Sexual harassment at work is unfortunately very common. Statistics show that 38% of women and 14% of men experience harassment, including sexual assault. The majority never say anything.
Anyone hoping for justice faces many challenges. You might be terrified of losing your job or your employer retaliating. You might also struggle to document the assault, especially if it happened on a business trip far from home. You might also be afraid that no one will believe that a coworker or even the boss assaulted or raped you.
Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys is a leading law firm in Atlanta helping those victimized by sexual assault. Our legal team can provide legal advice in a safe, comfortable environment. Please contact us to meet with an Atlanta sexual assault lawyer.
Who Sexually Assaults Workers?
A worker could be assaulted by almost anyone at work:
- Direct supervisor
Both men and women can be sexually assaulted, and the assault can be committed by someone of the opposite sex or the same sex.
Furthermore, sexual assault can be committed by someone you had a consensual relationship with. Legally, any unwelcome touching of a sexual nature is sexual assault, even if you consented to sex prior. Sexual assault includes rape but also groping, kissing, and fondling against your will.
Challenges with Workplace Assault
One common theme runs through the stories told by sexual assault survivors: I can’t believe that happened. This disbelief is especially strong if you were sexually assaulted by a boss or coworker. In reality, however, sexual assault is often committed by people we know. You might never have thought that a mild-mannered coworker would grope you, but here you are. It happened.
This brings us to the greatest challenge with workplace sexual assault: fear that you will lose your job if you speak out. This fear will be lessened if a customer or vendor assaults you, but it’s an acute fear if a boss or coworker is the aggressor.
The good news is you can’t be fired for reporting sexual assault to Human Resources. That would be retaliation. Still, most people are worried about accusing someone of sexual assault at work. You don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker, and if push comes to shove, the company might choose your boss over you. Retaliation might be unlawful, but if a boss wants to fire you, they can usually make something up.
Fortunately, you can meet with an experienced sexual assault lawyer at Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys. We can listen to your concerns and guide you through the best steps to take to protect yourself.
What to Do after a Workplace Sexual Assault
Here are some tips for assault victims to help strengthen their legal claims:
- Document the date and time of the assault. This could be something as little as writing this information down on a piece of paper or emailing it to yourself.
- Tell someone. This is a hard step, especially after a rape. Still, you improve the odds of other people believing you if you tell a friend or family member what happened soon after it occurred. It’s okay if you don’t want to tell someone at work just yet—but tell someone you trust.
- Get a rape kit done if you were raped. This kit can pull DNA and hairs from your body, which are very helpful at proving the attack happened.
- Call the police. If you feel comfortable, report the assault to the police. It’s a crime to sexually assault someone.
- Contact an attorney. A lawyer is an excellent resource to have. We are required to maintain our client’s confidentiality, so there’s no risk that we will call up your boss and tell them what happened. We can also help you access other resources.
If you follow these steps, it will be much harder for your assailant to claim nothing happened, and much harder for your employer to turn a blind eye.
Seeking Compensation for Your Sexual Assault at Work
We can seek a settlement from the person who assaulted you since they bear obvious responsibility for their actions. Based on the facts, we might also seek to hold your employer liable. An employer can’t ignore complaints of sexual harassment or assault. If they did, they could be on the hook.
Someone assaulted while traveling for work might also sue the hotel or motel for negligent security. Again, the facts matter. If staff watched someone pull you into an elevator against your will, then they need to investigate. Any failure to follow up could render them legally liable.
We have sought compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and humiliation. Sexual assault is one of the worst intentional torts a person can commit, and we will seek maximum compensation, including punitive damages where appropriate.
Forced Arbitration & Your Legal Claim
Many employers like to use arbitration clauses as part of their employment contracts. Arbitration is similar to a lawsuit, but it’s held in private before an arbitrator instead of a judge. Many businesses like arbitration precisely because it is private, but also because they often work with arbitrators who are “business friendly.”
Helpfully, Congress has eliminated forced arbitration in employment for sexual assault claims. As reported by NBC News, Congress passed a bill in 2022 outlawing the practice, and President Biden signed it into law.
This means any arbitration provision is unenforceable if you are suing for sexual assault at work. Arbitration is heavily slanted toward employers and businesses, and we much prefer to bring assault claims before a judge. In open court, you can tell your story and often put pressure on a business to settle to avoid negative publicity.
Call Our Atlanta Sexual Assault Attorneys
We have helped many sexual assault victims tell their stories and seek financial compensation for their suffering. We can negotiate a confidential settlement or file a lawsuit in open court and vindicate your rights. Let us discuss your case in a private consultation. Call our firm at (404) 529-3476 to get started.