Sexual Assault or Harassment in the Workplace: What Can You Do?
Workplace sexual assault is surprisingly common. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 36,500 workers were raped or sexually assaulted from 1993 to 1999. Of these victims, about 80% are women. Harassment is also pervasive, with some studies finding almost 40% of women having faced some form of harassment while on the job. When harassment is so severe that it becomes hostile, many men and women cannot return to the workplace and find themselves unemployed.
At Halpern Santos & Pinkert, P.A., our lawyers help sexual assault victims obtain compensation for their injuries. Research shows that many victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression. Bringing a lawsuit is often the best way to regain a sense of power.
Sexual harassment is, of course, illegal, and there are employment laws on the books to help victims. For example, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, and this includes sexual harassment. A similar Florida law prohibits the same conduct.
However, our clients also have the option of bringing different civil suits based on “tort.” For example, any unwanted touching is a battery, and this includes assaults of a sexual nature. A victim can receive compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Missing work is also common after an assault, with many victims feeling as if they can never return to work again. Our clients can often receive compensation for pain and suffering and other emotional distress.
If a coworker harassed you but did not touch you, then you might be able to sue for intentional infliction of emotional distress, also called IIED. To bring this type of claim, we need to prove four elements:
- The defendant’s conduct was outrageous
- The conduct was done deliberately or recklessly to inflict mental suffering
- You suffered severe distress
- The outrageous conduct was the cause of the distress
Simple teasing or flirting, even if you find it very offensive, might not qualify as sufficiently “outrageous,” and being annoyed or even embarrassed probably does not qualify as “severe” distress. But someone who stalks you at home or work has certainly crossed a line and would instill fear in any person. Meet with us to discuss your options.
Building a Case
It is not easy to prove that you have been harassed at work. Many of your coworkers might be afraid to admit they have seen or heard anything for fear of retaliation. Even though retaliation is also illegal, many workers still fear an employer will find some pretext for firing them.
At our firm, we have extensive experience collecting helpful evidence of either sexual assault or harassment. To begin, we need to hear from you as soon as an illegal incident has occurred. We can help you collect proof, such as physical evidence that an assault has taken place.
We also can meet with witnesses to get their side of the story. We handle this work with the discretion that our sexual assault victims have come to expect and can help negotiate a favorable settlement or file a lawsuit, if necessary.
Contact us today at Halpern Santos & Pinkert, P.A. Our Florida sexual assault lawyers offer a free consultation.