Cases of sexual harassment and assault have made headlines this year, with no greater example of the emotions bound up in these allegations than the recent Supreme Court nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. While the Supreme Court and criminal aspect grab headlines, what is often neglected is the civil aspect. Such egregious crimes carry damages long after the initial incident with psychological traumas that may prevent normal functioning for months or even years afterward. The expenses that result from therapies, and lost income that will inevitably result when such attacks occur in the workplace, make these cases representative of a substantial personal injury.
While it may be difficult to come forward – particularly if state prosecutors are refusing to move forward with the case themselves – it is necessary to expose individuals who commit these acts and institutions that support them. Even if there is found to be insufficient evidence for a criminal conviction, compensation for damages may still be within your reach. In a civil lawsuit, the goal is compensation for emotional distress, physical trauma, and other losses associated with the action. These lawsuits only must meet the “preponderance of evidence” standard – which means as long as you have more evidence showing guilt than the defense you are likely to see justice served.
Employers also have a duty to protect their employees from these sorts of assault. While every state is different, in the state of Florida an employer is legally obligated to ensure sexual harassment does not take place. This requires the employer to clearly define sexual harassment and to take claims seriously. If your employer fails to properly define sexual harassment and fails to provide an environment where you can comfortably report these incidents, that may impart liability upon the employer in question. Specifics of a case will vary so make sure you have spoken with a qualified personal injury attorney if you are considering bringing suit against an employer.
It is understandable that many victims will feel like they cannot come forward with their story. Popular judgments and scorn are undeniable, and the current culture of victim blaming might compel silence. Remember, however, then those who get away with sexual assault and harassment are likely to repeat their behavior. It can be the hardest thing in the world to speak out against injustice when you feel that nobody cares, which is why finding an attorney willing to stand is important. A good attorney can listen to your story without judgment, guide you to resources for support, and evaluate the legal merits of your case and find a way to ensure justice is received.
Do not stay silent, do not be pressured into walking away, and do not accept that such things are simply the way they are. Speak up and take action. Many serial abusers have been outed for their actions over the years and victims are starting to find justice. Filing suit before the statute of limitations on your case runs out will help keep the wave going and ensure a safer future for yourself and your family.