Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, states, and city laws prohibit and sometimes criminalize workplace sexual harassment and assaults.  Sexual assault in the workplace, aside from in many cases being a crime, is a form of sexual harassment. Sexual assault can occur between men and women, people of the same sex, or when the victim is transgender.  

New York City and State Sexual Harassment Requirements 

In New York State, both federal and state sexual harassment statutes apply to sexual assault in the workplace. In addition, the City of New York has its own sexual harassment law, which includes sexual assault and must be complied with by employers in the City 

Federal Racial Discrimination in Employment Law 

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal law regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. As noted above, the law applies to harassment of applicants or employees because of that person’s sex. Harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and any other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, including sexual assault. The law governs all aspects of employment.  Harassment can occur when both the victim and the perpetrator are of the same gender or sexual orientation. 

New York State Sexual Harassment Requirements 

Under New York State law, employers must perform many steps to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. First, they must adopt a Sexual Harassment Policy.  The policy must prohibit sexual harassment, including assault, as well as retaliation. The state has issued a model policy that the state will deem adequate. Policies drafted by employers must meet or exceed the requirements of the model. 

If you believe that you have been the victim of a sexual assault in the workplace, you should contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney working in the area of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. The attorney will be able, at no cost, to discuss your issues with you and advise you as to how you should proceed. 

Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act

The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act is a law aimed at preventing sexual harassment, including sexual assault,  in the workplace. It features a three-year statute of limitations and applies to all NYC employers. Employers must implement and keep records of sexual harassment and assaults. The firm must have policies outlining the responsibilities of supervisors and managers in preventing sexual harassment, assault, and retaliation and measures they can take to address sexual harassment and assault complaints

What You Should Do if You Suffered a Workplace Sexual Assault

If you think you may have been the victim of sexual assault in your workplace, you should take some critical steps promptly, as well as contacting experienced New York sexual harassment counsel. Employers in New York can be held strictly liable for sexual assault committed by managers or supervisors.  Even if no one else knows about the assault, your employer could still be liable under this standard.  If, for example, your supervisor made sexual or physical contact with you during a performance review, you might well be able to hold your employer liable for that conduct.  

Similarly, if a coworker assaulted you and your employer knew or should have known that the assault was likely, they may be liable.  Note that what you tell your supervisor is considered to have been told to your company, even if neither you nor your supervisor passed the information on.  Thus, for example, if you tell your manager that X was harassing you at a firm party and the supervisor does not act on that information, the company will be liable should that employee later assault you.  On the other hand, if your employer took immediate action after the initial complaint, it would probably not be liable for the later assault 

Document Your Case

There may not be much in the way of documentation in your assault claim.  However, if you are claiming that your employer knew or should have known about the perpetrator’s potential for misconduct, you will want to obtain copies of all the documentation supporting your claim that you can.  Since most of these records will not be easy for you to access, you should consider working with a knowledgeable employment discrimination attorney to assist you. 

Keep Communicating with Your Supervisors

No matter how badly things seem to be going, if you are still working at the firm, be sure to maintain lines of communication with your employers. They may not be entirely aware of the situation or may be trying to resolve the problem quietly. In either case, knowing what they are doing is helpful to you.  

Talk to HR

It would also be helpful to stay in touch with Human Resources. HR staff understands the sexual harassment rules. For this reason, they will probably at least listen to your story with some concern and may be able to e and will be aware that an alleged assault constitutes sexual harassment. They may also explain why the company is taking the steps it is (or is not) taking regarding your claim. However, even if HR doesn’t help you much, as your employment discrimination attorney will tell you, if you make a formal claim, you must be able to show that you exhausted your in-house remedies. So, you should be sure to take any steps that your employee handbook says you should before making a formal claim. 

What Remedies Are Available to Me

Sexual harassment cases, including sexual assault cases, have remedies ranging from financial to employment-related. You may, for example, no longer have to work with or for the individual harassing you. Or, in a more formal claim setting, you may recover back pay based on denial or a raise or promotion, or a termination. 

You may have the right to be reinstated in your position. However, this may not be possible or practical. In this case, you will be entitled to front pay. Front pay is intended to compensate you for losses you may suffer from the date of the judgment. 

Sometimes compensatory damages for emotional distress, damage to your professional reputation, and your out-of-pocket costs may be awarded. A court may also award punitive or exemplary damages if it feels your employer knew about the misconduct and did not take steps to stop it.  These kinds of damages are more likely to be available where there is a history of harassment prior to the assault.  

You should also be aware that many kinds of sexual assaults are also serious crimes.  Consider reporting your incident to the police as soon as possible.  Your lawyer can help you determine if criminal charges are appropriate and help file them if they are.  

Retain an Attorney as Soon as You Can

If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual assault in the workplace, consult an experienced sexual harassment attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable attorney can help you understand what happened to you and the remedies that may be available. He or she can also help you continue working and with preparing and maintaining necessary records. 

Call a New York Sexual Assault & Harassment Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation

If you believe you have been the victim of sexual assault or harassment at work, you should speak to an attorney immediately. To schedule your free case evaluation, call our office today at 646-201-8625 or contact us online.