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Sexual Assault in the Workplace

These days, it seems that it's nearly impossible to read the news without coming across at least one story about yet another celebrity, politician, or other public figure being accused of sexual assault. More often than not, the victims of these assault cases are women, though it's certainly not unheard of for men to be victimized as well (e.g., recent allegations against actor Kevin Spacey). And while it is certainly unfortunate that so many women have been victimized, the fact that they have joined the "#metoo" conversation and come forward about their experiences with sexual assault points to the reality that an important revolution is taking place in our society.

2017 has become a year of reckoning for abusers of women. But it’s only the beginning of a long journey toward purging our society of predatory behavior. Women should know that when it comes to sexual assault in the workplace, there are legal options available.

For what some would argue is the first time in history, sexual assault victims are being taken seriously and have begun to feel empowered. Meanwhile, those who have committed assault are actually starting to face serious consequences for their actions. Now, perhaps more than ever, it is important for women to be aware of their rights, protections, and recourse when it comes to sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

Understanding the Dynamics of Sexual Assault in the Workplace

For years, men who have come into positions of power in the workplace have abused their powers by harassing and assaulting fellow workers. A common example of this that plays out all too often in the American workplace is a situation where a male in a position of power/superiority over a woman will "dangle" promises or implications of a promotion or other benefits in exchange for sexual favors. In some cases, these men may even feel that they can get away with harassing and assaulting women in the workplace because they know these women will fear the negative repercussions that could occur if they were to come forward and report the behavior. And the more these men get away with their behavior, the more confident they become in continuing it. In this sense, it becomes a very vicious cycle.

Have You Been a Victim? Know Your Options

With all this in mind, it's important for women everywhere to be aware of their rights and protections in the workplace. Perhaps the most basic and wide-reaching of protections is found in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (specifically, within Title VII). This defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome behavior, advances, or conduct of a sexual nature (whether physical or verbal) in the workplace and prohibits discrimination on the job based on sex, among other things. What many women don't realize is that Title VII also protects employees against retaliation for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace; this means you should never feel as though you can't (or shouldn't) speak up about any kind of inappropriate behavior, even if it is committed by a superior and even if it happens only once.

One of the most important steps to take if you have been a victim of harassment or any kind of discrimination based on sex in the workplace is to file a formal complaint with the EEOC within six months of the most recent incident; this will open up your options when it comes to pursuing further legal action, reaching some kind of settlement, or otherwise resolving the issue. Also be sure to inform supervisors or managers of your complaint or to go directly to your employer's human resources department if you don't feel comfortable discussing the matter with superiors.

At the same time, if you have been a victim of harassment or assault at work, it's important that you consult with an experienced legal team to walk you through the complex process and make sure your rights are well represented every step of the way. Ideally, you should consult with a legal team that has specific experience and proven success with similar sexual assault and harassment cases in the past. The right attorney will take your case seriously and make sure all necessary steps are taken to show your employer that you're serious. An attorney will also be able to assist you with the process of filing and submitting a formal complaint, so be sure to consult with a legal team as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about this topic or believe that someone else’s negligence or recklessness is responsible for your injuries, the attorneys at Stabinski & Funt, P.A. can help. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout South Florida. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. Contact us today by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a free case evaluation form to find out how we can help you.