Sexual assault in the workplace is a pervasive problem that is more common than most people realize. A 2018 survey found that 81% of women and 43% of men have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetimes. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of women reported being victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
If you have suffered any type of sexual assault, violence, or harassment at work, you have rights. With help from the sexual assault attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, you can bring the perpetrator to justice and secure compensation for future financial stability. We have helped dozens of sexual assault victims throughout Illinois. We can help you, too. Call (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation near you.
What is Workplace Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault under Illinois law is the crime of sexual penetration if the assailant uses force or threat of force; does so without knowing consent of the victim; is a family member of a victim who is under 18; or if the assailant is an adult who holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision over the victim, if the victim is between the ages of 13 and 18.
Sexual conduct refers to any intentional touching or fondling, either directly or through clothing, of the victim’s sexual organs, anus or (if female) breasts. Any transfer of semen by the perpetrator upon any part of the victim with the intent of sexual gratification or arousal of either party also counts as criminal sexual conduct. Consent is the main factor involved in defining sexual assault and harassment at work.
Illinois law defines consent as an agreement the individual freely gives to sexual penetration or sexual conduct. It clarifies that lack of resistance to the sexual act does not equal consent; nor does submission that happens due to force or threats. Neither does what the victim wore at the time constitute consent. If the individual withdraws consent at any time during sexual conduct or penetration, he or she has not consented to anything that happens thereafter.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Federal law also has statutes to protect workers from sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual discrimination at any workplace with 15 or more employees. It defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests, or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that unreasonably interferes with work performance or creates an offensive work environment.
Title VII states that the victim of workplace sexual harassment can be male or female, and that the harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex. It says that the assailant can be a coworker, supervisor, or non-employee. People other than the victim who feel negatively impacted by the offensive conduct can also file a claim for sexual harassment. Finally, Title VII makes the important distinction that the harasser’s advances, behaviors, or conduct must be unwelcome.
Signs of Sexual Assault at Work
Some forms of sexual harassment – including sexual assault – can be obvious to a victim. Other types, however, can be less conspicuous. Sexual assault or harassment at work is a form of sex discrimination. If you believe you or someone you know is a victim, speak up about your experience. Sexual harassment or assault at work can include the following:
- Unwanted physical touching
- Kissing, hugging, stroking, patting, or assaulting
- Unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
- Romantic or sexual comments
- Requests for sexual favors
- Threats for turning down sexual advances
- Stalking behaviors
Unwanted sexual contact of any kind that is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment fulfills the definition of sexual harassment at work. If someone sexually harassed or assaulted you in a workplace setting or during job-related duties, you have rights. Learn how to report the perpetrator and seek justice with help from an attorney.
How to Report Workplace Sexual Assault
The first step in seeking a resolution for workplace sexual assault is going to your employer’s human resources department. Most companies have instructions for how to report sexual assault or harassment at work, starting with filing an official complaint with HR. Keep records of when you filed, whom you spoke to, and how the company reacted. If your employer does not resolve the problem, go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
File a claim for sexual harassment with the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate your claim and may organize mediation between you and your employer. If your employer still does not resolve the issue, you can file a lawsuit against the company for damages. In a sexual assault case, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator whether your boss resolves the issue or not. A lawsuit against the person who sexually assaulted you can result in justice and closure, as well as payment for your damages.
A lawsuit against your employer and/or the assailant can help you receive payment for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, back pay, and many other damages. The judge may also grant you punitive damages as a way to punish the perpetrator. Use an attorney to help you make the most of your workplace sexual assault claim.
Get Help With Your Claim in Illinois
Speak to a sexual assault attorney today. Contact us at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC for a free consultation in Chicago. We can answer your questions, investigate your case, help you gather evidence, and build a smart legal strategy on your behalf. Let us help you fight for justice. Call (888) 424-5757 today.