Many adult Americans spend the majority of their waking hours each week at a workplace or in an employment atmosphere. While at their place of employment, an employee should not be forced to undergo sexual harassment and/or abuse and feel the need to protect or defend oneself. Nevertheless, each day countless employees across the country must endure these unwanted advances and physical acts in order to retain their employment or avoid adverse consequences.
Workplace-related sexual abuse can be committed by a host of individuals, ranging from a customer or client to a worker’s boss or supervisor. Particular circumstances may increase the likelihood of suffering abuse. For example, research has shown that employees that rely upon tips or those working in isolated fields of employment—such as hotels, agriculture, or in-home services—are more likely to experience higher rates of sexual assault and harassment. Other risk factors for sexual abuse, particularly for women, include lacking legal immigration status, working in jobs dominated primarily by men, and working in a setting with significant power disparities between employees and their superiors.
The US Department of Justice defines sexual abuse as “any nonconsensual sexual act” or “unwanted sexual advances” committed against an employee. This encompasses several types of behaviors, including but not limited to:
- Sexual Assault: Overt acts of sexual abuse, such as unwanted touching and kissing; rubbing; forcing a person to touch a perpetrator in a sexual way; and other acts of “sexual violence.”
- Sexual Harassment: Conduct that involves the sharing of sexually inappropriate images or videos; making inappropriate sexual gestures; making sexually-charged jokes; sending suggestive messages via notes or email; or inappropriate touching.
- Rape: A form of sexual assault that specifically involves unwanted acts of penetration.
Sexual assault and harassment in the workplace can have lasting negative effects on the violated employee, including an increase in physical and mental health complications; the forfeiture of job opportunities; the loss of a job due to retribution; and social ostracization through stigma.
Slater Slater Schulman LLP is dedicated to the confidential representation of individuals who have been sexually abused or harassed at their workplace. If you or someone you love has suffered this form of abuse and wishes to file a claim, please contact Slater Slater Schulman LLP for a free, confidential consultation by filling out the form on this page or by calling our office at (800) 251-6990.