The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reports that 12% of sexual assault victims were working when they were assaulted. While this figure maybe startling, many incidents go unreported for various reasons. If sexually assaulted, you should know there is recourse under the law.
But first, let’s define sexual assault. Sexual assault refers to any sexual activity which takes place without your explicit consent. It includes unwanted touching of a sexual nature whether directly or through your clothing.
Unfortunately, many victims of sexual assault in the workplace are unsure of what steps they should take. Some also fear losing their jobs or being forced to continue working alongside the perpetrator. However, sexual assault is against the law and employers have a duty to protect employees. Perpetrators and negligent employers should be made to face up to their actions. This article will outline the options available to you if you have been assaulted at work. For specific advice, contact a sexual abuse lawyer in Indianapolis.
Laws Addressing Sexual Assault Explained by an Indianapolis Sexual Abuse Lawyer
Sexual assault is a crime under both federal and state laws. Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual discrimination in the workplace. However, this law only applies to workplaces with 15 or more employees. In Indiana, the civil rights code governs those businesses with six to 14 employees. Businesses with five employees or fewer are not covered under sexual discrimination laws.
Employees of very small businesses can’t sue their employers. However, this does not mean that victims can’t seek justice. They can still file a police report against the perpetrator. They can pursue the matter under the state’s usual rape and sexual assault laws. There are two schools of thought surrounding why the law does not cover very small business. One is that when a company has so few employees, it would be difficult to find witnesses. The other is that the law is intended to protect startups from lawsuits which could destroy them.
What Are the Duties of Employers?
Employees covered under state and federal laws are required to take “reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment. They are also required to take corrective action if it occurs. One key requirement is that the employer issues and distributes a sexual harassment policy. They should also inform employees about how to report harassment or assault. For their efforts to be considered reasonable, employers must also train managers in how to follow the policy. They should enforce the policy when a complaint is made.
What to Do If Sexually Assaulted at Work
If you have been a victim of unwanted sexual touching you should take the following steps.
- Tell the perpetrator to stop. Make it clear that you find their behavior inappropriate.
- Write down what happened. Note the date, time and location of the incident and whether there were any potential witnesses. Record what you said and how the perpetrator responded.
- Report the incident to your employer. There should be an established procedure for reporting sexual assault or harassment. If you know about it, contact the relevant person or department or request the necessary form. If you’re not sure how to report the incident, take the next step.
- Contact a lawyer/ union representative. If you are a member of a union, ask your representative how to proceed. Alternatively, ask an Indianapolis sexual abuse lawyer for advice. They know the procedures and they can guide you accordingly.
- Call the police. Whether or not your employer is covered under the law, you have the right to contact the police. Sexual assault is a crime regardless of where it occurs. A sexual abuse lawyer in Indianapolis can assist you with this.
Factors a Sexual Abuse Lawyer in Indianapolis Will Discuss With You
You can involve an attorney at any stage of the process. However, it may be best to schedule a consultation early on. This is because there are legal deadlines for filing formal complaints with government agencies. You can’t bring a lawsuit against your employer without notifying the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Civil Rights Commission. If your workplace falls under federal law, you have 300 days to file a complaint with the EEOC.
If employed by the state of Indiana, there is no time limit within which you have to report assault. Late reporting will not prevent the state from looking into your situation and taking action.
Your lawyer will advise you of the possible outcomes of your case. If you file a lawsuit, you can typically seek:
- Monetary damages
- Reinstatement if your employer transferred or fired you for making a complaint
- A change in employer practices to prevent similar actions in the future.
Contact the Attorneys at Rowe and Hamilton Today!
If sexually assaulted at work, contact an attorney as soon as possible. They can guide you through the various criminal and civil procedures. Sexual assault can leave you feeling guilty or vulnerable even though you did nothing wrong. The attorneys at Rowe and Hamilton will treat your case with the utmost delicacy and professionalism. However, they will fight for your rights in court if necessary. Call today and schedule a consultation.