Strategies for Navigating Sexual Assault Accusations at the Workplace

Reports of sexual assault have gained increasing attention over the past decade. However, there is some debate as to whether actual experiences of sexual assault have grown or if the actual reporting of sexual assault has become more public as the discussion of sexual assault has become more mainstream.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control, one in five women and one in every 14 men experience sexual assault at least once in their lives. For women, almost half of all sexual assault experiences occur from an offender who was an acquaintance. Another 45% report the offender to be an intimate partner. This means that sexual assault as a random act of violence is incredibly rare, and so it is typically people in our social circle that will commit these acts against us.

When sexual assault occurs, adjusting the amount of time spent with the offender is recommended—especially once the police are notified and lawyers are contacted. Minimizing contact with your offender is the best approach to ensure that you remain safe. However, when an act of sexual violence is committed against an individual within the workplace, this can quickly become complicated.

If you are sexually assaulted by another member of your workplace, working with a strong sexual assault lawyer will be an essential course of action to ensure that your work takes the proper steps to protect your rights in the workplace while protecting you physically and financially.

Here are some strategies that you can take into consideration to protect yourself in the workplace in the case of a sexual assault:

  • Immediately notify your supervisor of the incident in writing. Many organizations have a policy of public disclosure via email, so that is often the best way to communicate with a supervisor in the case of something serious, such as sexual assault. Do not take this as a time to be cautious and worried about not wanting something to be said in writing. Make sure to put the notification of your accusation in writing and do so in a timely fashion so that it is time-stamped, and ask your supervisor what the company policy is in regards to your protection.
  • Contact your HR department about your concern. Many companies have a professional standards department that will be able to handle these types of specific concerns. Your immediate supervisor should be able to direct you to this department, but you can contact them directly yourself, as well.
  • Know your rights and ask to be removed from the individual who has harassed you. Request to be moved to another floor or request that the individual who has assaulted you be moved to another floor. If the assault disrupts your ability to work, you should voice that concern.
  • If the person who assaulted you is your immediate supervisor, then report the assault to their supervisor and include every available supervisor on the report in writing. Also, include your sexual assault lawyer in the email and make sure that you are clear in the email that you have chosen for your protection to include your legal counsel in the email.

Sexual assault is an unfortunately common problem, and many men and women experience this problem in the workplace. The most common demographic of women who experience sexual assault is between 18 to 24, which means that for many women who experience sexual assault by co-workers or supervisors, it is in their first career role. So it is common for young women not to know how to respond and ultimately leave their place of work as a result of the harassment and assault. Working with a sexual assault lawyer to defend yourself and pursue charges against your offender can help you to feel comfortable in your place of work.