#METOO- Sexual Harassment and Assault Claims
Injuries are not always caused in accidents.
Some of the most serious injuries are caused on purpose. That includes sexual harassment and assault.
Victims of sexual harassment and assault deserve compensation just as much as someone who hurts their back or breaks their leg.
How come it took so long before we realized what was going on right in front of us?Up until now we've only seen the tip of the iceberg. Forced arbitration clauses have limited publicity.
The extent of the problem was brought front and center when Fox News host Gretchen Carlson came forward with her story. Her claim was a catalyst for other women to come forward and share their experiences.
The curtain was pulled back. What we saw was a corporate culture that didn't care about the victims of sexual harassment and assault.
#MeToo and the Tipping PointWhat came next showed the astounding power of the hashtag.
The #MeToo movement forced the country to acknowledge how women are treated at work and other places where there's a power-differential. Women across the country started to speak out about being sexually harassed and assaulted at work.
There's been a tipping point. Paraphrasing Malcolm Gladwell:
The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a big change in the way a whole society thinks about something like sexual harassment.
That's happened with the #MeToo movement.
Is this limited to public figures in New York and Hollywood?Most of the publicity--at least initially--was about stars in broadcasting and movies. Larger than life personalities (who wielded a lot of power of their own).
But these obviously aren't the only victims. And in fact, they're maybe the least sympathetic victims because within their industries they already had quite a bit of power. These cases--in some ways--are even stronger when ordinary workers expose sexual harassment and assault.
What should I do if I've been sexually harassed or assaulted at work?Here's what you should do if you were sexually harassed:
Let the offender know that the behavior is unacceptable.
Document that you let the offender know the behavior is unacceptable.
Make a complaint to HR and/or the offender's supervisor.
If you were sexually assaulted the first thing you should do is contact the police department.
If you have questions about these steps, let us know. We're happy to answer them.
Do I have a claim against just the offender or also against the company?This is a question that's fact-specific and needs to be answered on a case by case basis. But with that disclaimer out of the way, there's a good possibility that we're going to be able to hold not only the offender but also the company responsible.
What happens to my job if I make a claim against the company?Your employer can't (legally) take any employment action against you for making a claim relating to sexual harassment or assault. If it does it's going to be liable for retaliation (and, ironically, retaliation claims are often easier to prove and more valuable than the initial claim).
What about sexual harassment and assault outside of work?The root cause of most sexual harassment and assault is the power differential between the offender and victim (and abuse of that differential by the offender).
So it's natural that there's going to be sexual harassment and assault outside of work in situations where that power differential exists.
There are special state and federal employment laws that apply to claims at work. But the common law (judge made law) does a good job addressing claims outside of work.
Here are some areas where there are power differentials and the opportunity (historically) for offenders to sexually harass and assault with little if any consequence:
Of course there are many other settings where harassment and assault occur. Women (and men) owe it to themselves and others in the same situation to take action to address offensive conduct. Otherwise it's just going to keep happening.
Do I have a claim?Let us know what happened. We'll give you unfiltered feedback.
The "tipping point" has changed the way claims are assessed. Companies can't defend these cases the same way now that they could five or ten years ago. There's no more blaming the victim. Public sentiment won't allow it.
Now's the time to take action.