Every year, sexual assault in the workplace affects many female New York city employees. According to the National Center for biotechnology information, as many as 58% of female employees experience sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace. Sexual assault is a crime in New York City, and law enforcement are responsible for investigating sexual assault crimes.
Prosecutors can bring criminal charges against the assailant. Sadly, many victims never receive justice as their assailants are not charged, not convicted, or engage in a plea deal for a less severe sentence than they deserve. What should a victim do who has been assaulted in her place of employment? Victims of sexual assault in the workplace have several options for obtaining compensation for their injuries. If you or your loved one has experienced sexual assault in the workplace, there are legal steps you can take to seek justice and protect yourself.
Contact the Police
Discussing your sexual assault with law enforcement offers can be extremely difficult. Victims of sexual assault often feel isolated and embarrassed after the assault takes place. You may be understandably worried about your co-workers finding out about the sexual assault. Sexual assault is a crime in New York, no matter where the assault happens. Survivors of sexual assault in the workplace should report the incident to law enforcement as soon as possible. If your assailant is dangerous and your safety is in jeopardy, law enforcement will work with you to ensure that you are safe. They will begin an investigation that will hopefully lead to your assailant being convicted for the sexual assault.
Notify Your Employers of the Sexual Assault
When sexual assault happens in the workplace, it is crucial to notify your human resources department or managers of the assault. Filing an incident report about the sexual assault could protect you and other co-workers at your place of employment from suffering harm or being in danger of another sexual assault.
We recommend speaking with a lawyer before you submit an incident report with your employer. Employers are notorious for denying that sexual assaults took place or downplaying the seriousness of sexual assaults that happened in their workplaces. An experienced lawyer can help you submit the incident reports and protect your rights to a potential claim against your employer from the beginning of the process.
There have been cases in which employers who received incident reports throw away the reports, delete them, or pretend like the employee never filed them to escape liability. With the help of an experienced employment lawyer, you can ensure that you hold your employer accountable through every step of the process. Your lawyer will also help you ensure that you provide an account of the incident that is accurate and includes all of the relevant facts. Doing so will help you with your future legal claim.
Reach Out for Emotional Support
Recovering from a sexual assault can feel excruciating at times. Once you are in a physically safe location, try to reach out to supportive family members and friends. If possible, reach out to an experienced therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist who can help you process your emotions following the sexual assault.
Many sexual assault survivors report feeling anxiety, depression, and dissociation after the assault. If you need to take time off work, and your employer denies you leave, your employment lawyer can negotiate with your employer. Federal and local laws allow employees to take time off for qualifying medical issues, including mental health issues.
Sexual Assault is Different Than Sexual Harassment
The Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “ any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the recipient’s explicit consent.” Sexual assault can include inappropriate touching, sexual battery, fondling, and rape. Sexual harassment does not necessarily include touching, fondling, or rape.
In many cases, when an employee has experienced sexual assault in the workplace, the assailant engaged in previous sexual harassment of the employee. While sexual assault is different from sexual harassment, sexual assault is considered a type of sexual harassment under federal and local employment laws. In addition to bringing a legal claim against your employer, you may have a right to bring a civil lawsuit against your assailant himself or herself. It is more beneficial for sexual assault survivors to file a claim against their employer in many cases.
Consult With an Attorney
It is incredibly important to understand your legal rights after experiencing a workplace sexual assault. A skilled New York City employment lawyer will help you consider all of your options and choose the best legal path for you and your family. There are several different ways you can bring legal claims against your employer. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment and applies to New York employers with 15 or more employees.
The New York human rights law protects employees at a state level. This law is broader than the Civil Rights Act; it applies to all employers in New York state. The New York City Human Rights Law is even more protective of employees. These laws prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace and provide victims with a way to seek damages from their employers. Employees are entitled to back pay, front pay, lost benefits, attorney fees, compensatory damages, and punitive damages in some cases.
Contact Our Experienced New York City Sexual Assault Lawyers
In many cases, employees who have experienced sexual assault in the workplace no longer feel comfortable in their places of employment. The women’s rights lawyers at Tuckner, Sipser, Weinstock & Sipser, LLP believe that employers should be held accountable for workplace sexual assault. We focus our firm on representing women in employment issues, and we are prepared to advocate fiercely for your right to compensation. Contact our New York City employment law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.