In a perfect world, the workplace is a safe haven where everyone does their job and is treated with respect. Unfortunately, however, workplace sexual assault happens with alarming frequency. The employment lawyers of The Noble Law know all too well how often this happens and how deeply it impacts the victims from physical and emotional trauma to character assassination and even the loss of their livelihood.
If you have suffered a sexual assault or any other form of harassment in the workplace, we want to help. For those in North Carolina and South Carolina, The Noble Law is ready to advocate for your rights. We believe you. Please call and schedule a consultation with some of the most aggressive employment attorneys in this very sensitive area of law.
What Qualifies as Workplace Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault in the workplace isn’t limited to rape or attempted rape. The term refers to any kind of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the clear consent of the victim. Uninvited fondling, pinching, rubbing, and other types of sexual touching anywhere on the body can all meet the definition of sexual assault.
Consent is critical
The determining question in finding sexual assault is consent, even when parties know each other. Coercion through the use of physical means or threats is an important element of sexual assault. In a workplace sexual assault, the threats may pertain to the victim’s job or career. When a person participates in a sexual act because they are threatened, they have not consented.
Is It Sexual Assault If I Didn’t Physically Resist?
Resistance to a sexual assault is often not an option. A surprise attack can make resistance nearly impossible. Physical resistance may even endanger the person being assaulted. So, to be absolutely clear- the law does not require physical resistance to prove sexual assault in the workplace.
Pressure to Continue a Workplace Relationship Qualifies as Sexual Assault
Places of business are where people come together. Many professional relationships become personal ones over time. Some people even meet their future spouse at work! None of this is relevant to whether or not you have been sexually assaulted. This issue is one of power dynamics where one co-worker wields power or influence over the other.
A power imbalance is a common driving force behind many sexual assaults that occur in the working environment. Whether it’s a promise of a promotion or a threat of exposure, the fact is you are being pressured into the relationship; and that does not equal consent.
Remember, for a sexual encounter to be consensual, both people must consent—the absence of consent constitutes sexual assault. When there is coercion, the person being pressured has not consented. A prior relationship or sexual encounter does not establish consent for future encounters between them. Further, if a person consented yesterday to a sexual act with a particular partner, that doesn’t mean they consent today or will consent tomorrow. Every individual has the right to withdraw their consent to sexual activity at any time.
What to Do If You are Sexually Assaulted at Work
Sexual assault in the workplace is traumatizing. Your well-being is of paramount importance. After an assault, we recommend that you seek medical attention for your physical and mental health.
Sexual assault in the workplace is both a civil wrong and a criminal offense. Therefore, it can form the basis for a civil lawsuit for monetary damages and a criminal case to punish the assailant. Victims are urged to file a police report and contact a lawyer.
Victims are Protected under Federal and State Law
It is important for victims to remember that the law is on their side. Sexual assault among coworkers is a form of sexual harassment which is prohibited as a form of employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII applies to public and private employers in North Carolina and South Carolina with 15 or more employees as well as employment agencies, local governments, and federal government entities.
North Carolina’s Equal Employment Practices Act protects workers from retaliation when they raise claims relating to sexual assault under North Carolina General Statute 126-16. South Carolina law protects employees from retaliation when they assert their rights.
Our attorneys understand the gravity of these laws, and we fight fiercely for our clients in the name of those rights.
Call and schedule a confidential consultation
At The Noble Law, we share your goals: to affirm your dignity and obtain the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been harmed by sexual assault or workplace discrimination in either North or South Carolina, please call us and schedule a consultation. We’re ready to listen and help you get the justice you deserve.