The day-to-day grind can be exhausting, but work events are meant to be enjoyable. Unfortunately, some people ignore social etiquette at these events and exceed the boundaries of acceptable interactions. If you have been sexually abused at a work event, this is a serious issue. Some employers do not understand the gravity of such a situation and may fail to act on it properly. But the legal system works to help right such wrongs, whether perpetrated by a coworker, your apathetic employer, or both.
At D’Amore Law Group, our team of experienced attorneys can explain what to do if you are sexually abused at a work event and how to determine liability for sexual abuse at a work event. We can help you seek justice for what you have been through. Contact us today.
What Is Sexual Abuse?
According to Oregon Administrative Rule 411-020-0002, sexual abuse means non-consensual sexual contact or behavior that includes, but is not limited to, sexual harassment, inappropriate sexual comments, and threats. Examples of sexual abuse include:
- Non-consensual contact, including groping, fondling, or any other sexual touching;
- Any forced performance of sexual acts;
- Coerced sexual activity through improper use of power or position;
- Distribution of photos or videos of sexual acts without consent (includes taking the photos or videos); and
- Sexual activity with someone who lacks the capacity to consent.
There are also eight different criminal offenses that fall under the umbrella of sexual abuse in Oregon. Depending on your situation, your abuser may face both civil and criminal charges. Civil cases seek compensation for what has happened, while criminal cases may result in incarceration, fines, and a permanent criminal record. Your attorney can advise you on the differences and what to expect from each type of case.
What to Do If You Are Sexually Abused at a Work Event?
Sexual assault is a serious offense, no matter where it occurs. Not only is it inappropriate, but it is also a crime. Victims of sexual assault often have a lot to process but should consider taking action as soon as reasonably possible. The process is different for everyone, but here are some of the steps you may want to take depending on your specific circumstances.
Seek Medical Attention
Survivors of sexual assault may need medical attention. This is especially true in the case of rape or other physical trauma. Experts can conduct a sexual assault forensic exam to collect valuable evidence that may be important to your case. Medical professionals may also offer help with the associated emotional and psychological trauma.
Contact the Police
Sexual assault is a crime, no matter the circumstances. It is important to contact the police and file a report detailing the incident as soon as possible while it is fresh in your mind.
Notify Your Employer
If the sexual assault occurred at work or at a work event, your employer should be notified. File an incident report with a manager or the company’s human resources department, and make sure to request a copy of the report for your own records. Some victims fear reporting the incident. They anticipate possible retaliation by their employer for being honest and speaking out against the misconduct. However, it is against the law for you to face any sort of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation because you filed a report for sexual abuse.
Receive Emotional Support
It may be difficult to open up about what you have been through, but it is a good idea to seek both professional help in the form of counseling or therapy and the support of friends and family. Many victims of sexual abuse go through a wide range of emotions and experiences, including anxiety, depression, and withdrawal. These issues can have a profound negative impact on your life, your relationships, and your work. It is important to seek out and receive the support you need to help you get back your mental and physical health.
Consult an Attorney
Sexual abuse cases can be criminal or civil in nature. While prosecutors handle criminal cases, civil sexual abuse cases are generally handled by personal injury attorneys. Understanding your legal rights is the first step toward seeking meaningful justice and compensation for your traumatic experience. An attorney who knows Oregon sexual abuse law can help you determine the best legal strategy for your specific case circumstances and objectives.
Who Is Liable If I Am Sexually Abused by a Coworker at a Work Event?
The person who perpetrated the sexual abuse should absolutely be held accountable for their actions. It does not matter if they are your supervisor, the owner of the company, a subordinate, or a coworker you have never even crossed paths with before. Sexual abuse should never be tolerated. Suing the perpetrator can help you find justice and prevent them from doing the same to someone else.
But you might not know that your employer has a duty to ensure the safety of employees while at work or attending work functions, and there are some situations where your employer may be partially liable for your harm. This could be true for you if a person in a position of authority knew or should have reasonably known that sexual abuse could occur and failed to take action to prevent it. Indications may have come from other coworkers, previous complaints, known behavioral patterns, or many other ways, depending on the nature of your work environment. Your employer has a duty to provide a safe environment and established protocol for reporting sexual abuse. Just because the work event was off-site or after hours does not mean the employer’s duty evaporates.
The team at D’Amore Law Group understands the sensitive nature of workplace sexual abuse cases and your fear of accusing a coworker. You have the right to seek justice and compensation.
Our attorneys have decades of experience fighting for the rights of those harmed by acts of others, spanning thousands of cases. We have a deep knowledge of the Oregon legal system and sexual abuse law. To better understand the circumstances of your unique case, we offer a free initial consultation. Contact us to schedule your appointment.