Sexual Assault and Harassment Cases and Your Rights

Sexual harassment and sexual assault cases arise with alarming frequency and such stories are found almost daily in the media.  Just yesterday, at least two such stories were making national headlines.  In one, a famous rap star and his wife are accused of a long history of sexual assault, allegedly perpetrated on victims from California to Georgia.  In another national story, a television actor from "That ’70s Show" is being criminally prosecuted for rape, allegedly occurring more than 15 years ago. In spite of the high profile criminal prosecutions going on currently and in the past, these cases and workplace sexual harassment continue to occur all too often.

Sexual Assault and Abuse Are Too Common

In the sexual assault cases that make the news, the perpetrator is often someone famous or in an important position such as a member of the clergy, an entertainer or a high level corporate executive.  The reality is that these cases happen frequently and are not always perpetrated by someone in a position of power or influence.  What is common among the cases, however, is the manner in which the sexual assaults are reportedly committed.  They often happen when the victim is in a weakened condition such as when they are vulnerable because of their age, mental condition or level of impairment (usually due to drugs or alcohol).  Sexual predators take advantage of their targets and use their weaknesses to perpetrate their assault.

According to statistics cited by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), someone in the United States is the victim of a sexual assault every minute or so.  One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.  However, it is not only women who reported being victimized, as about 3% of American men—or one in thirty-three—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.  From 2009-2013, Child Protective Services agencies throughout the country substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse.  According to studies, a majority of child sexual assault victims are between the ages of 12 and 17.  Of the victims under the age of 18, approximately 34% of the victims of sexual assault and rape are under the age 12, and 66% of victims of sexual assault and rape are between 12 and 17. 

Given the pervasive nature of these crimes, it touches the lives of millions of people in this country.  It is not a problem that will go away if it is ignored, and sexual assault perpetrators need to be held accountable.  Likewise, victims should be compensated for the physical and emotional injuries they have suffered so they can move on with their lives.

Sexual Harassment in The Workplace

Under California law it is unlawful to harass a person (applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex or sexual orientation.  This includes firing, failing to hire, harassing or discriminating in any way because of your sex or sexual orientation. Harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, lewd gestures, sexually explicit jokes, emails, or texts offensive objects or images. 

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), sexual harassment in the workplace is common but is rarely reported.  According to sources cited by the NSVRC, thirty eight percent of all women and fourteen percent of men have reported experiencing sexual harassment at work.  Moreover, 1 in 7 women and 1 in 17 men have sought a new job assignment, changed jobs, or quit a job because of sexual harassment and assault.

The harassment victims suffer in the workplace can lead to a host of problems including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and physical manifestations of all of these.  It is not uncommon for the harassment and the injuries it causes to go unreported.  Often, especially when the harasser is in a superior position within the business, the victim feels reporting the harassment will not accomplish anything and may even get them fired. 

By way of example, in one Orange County case handled by this office, the victim was an assistant to an executive vice president.  The victim was repeatedly told that she needed to come over the executive’s home if she wanted to advance her career. On more than one hundred occasions, the harasser complimented the victim regarding her appearance and even put his “compliments” into e-mails.  Eventually, when the victim had rebuffed the executive dozens of times, a “performance issue” arose and the victim was fired.  This is a fairly common scenario.

If you believe you have been the victim of workplace harassment or sexual abuse, contacting an experienced personal injury attorney may be the best first step toward holding the perpetrator accountable and to securing compensation for the injuries and damages sustained.  Mr. Ralph has 30 years of experience at handling personal injury cases including those involving sexual abuse and harassment.  A consultation with Mr. Ralph is free and is as easy as calling the number below or reaching out by way of an e-mail to his office.


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