April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to share this information about what to do if you are sexually assaulted at work. Did you know that a sexual assault occurs every two minutes in the United States? Every two minutes. On average, there are 237,868 victims each year; that number has actually decreased by more than half since 1993, but it’s still too many, and according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) 60% of assaults go unreported.
The United States Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” When this happens in the workplace, it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, or religion. Retaliation against someone who complains of sexual harassment is also illegal.
Sexual assault does not have to be a physical act; it can also include psychological harassment or sexually oriented conduct or behavior that interferes with an employee’s job performance or creates an uncomfortable or openly hostile work environment. A wide range of acts and behaviors are classified as sexual violence, from joking about rape and displaying inappropriate or pornographic material to groping, fondling, and forced sexual intercourse. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, most sexual harassment cases involve female workers who have been harassed by male co-workers or supervisors, but assaults may committed by both men and women, and by a supervisor, co-worker, or even a visitor or vendor to the workplace. The assault may even occur away from employer premises or during off-work hours. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reported that between 1993 and 1999, there were 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults on U.S. employees, so the one of the first things to realize is that if you’ve been assaulted, unfortunately you’re not alone.
What To Do
If you’re assaulted or harassed in a work-related situation, tell the harasser to stop and get away to a safe location. If the assault was physical in nature, you’ll want to call 911 or the police immediately. Do not shower or change clothes, and go to the hospital emergency room for an examination. Call a trusted friend or family member or ask the hospital for the telephone number of a crisis hotline. If the assault is psychological or repeated harassment, again the first step is to tell the perpetrator that it needs to stop. Write down, in a safe place, all the details of what happened: when; where; how frequently; names of witnesses; any retaliatory action that was taken toward you. Next, file a formal complaint in writing to your supervisor, manager, company owner, or human resources department. You’ll also want to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which would be vital if you plan to file a lawsuit.
For a free legal consultation, call 833-552-7274
Finally, contact a lawyer with experience handling sexual assault cases. The sexual assault attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can help. Our staff of experienced sexual assault attorneys and investigators will work to bring the abuser, as well as those responsible for screening and supervising that abuser, to justice. Contact us at (727)451-6900, and rest assured that your confidentiality is our highest priority.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765