Holiday Parties and Sexual Assault
Around the holidays, workplaces often become increasingly chaotic. Many employers hold holiday parties to celebrate the end of the year and in some cases to build teamwork. There is an expectation that most employees will attend. Unfortunately, these parties, which may include alcohol or be held in inappropriate settings, may be used as an excuse for workers and their supervisors to engage in inappropriate and sometimes even criminal conduct. If you were sexually assaulted at a holiday party, you may have grounds to bring a claim for damages against your employer. The New York City sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates may be able to help you.Holiday Parties and Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is prohibited criminal conduct. Under the New York Penal Code, it includes any forcible touching that occurs when someone intentionally and for no legitimate purpose forcibly makes contact with the sexual or other intimate parts of someone else in order to degrade them.
Criminal sexual acts happen when someone engages in sexual actions with someone else without that person's permission. When force is used, it is charged in the first degree as a Class B felony. It is in the third degree if the victim has an inability to consent, which is a Class E felony. Sexual abuse happens when someone is subjected to sexual contact without their consent. When it occurs through the use of force, it may be charged as a first-degree class D felony. In other situations, it is a class B misdemeanor.
If you were sexually assaulted by a coworker, supervisor, or manager at a holiday party, you should bring criminal charges. However, in many cases, criminal charges may not make up for the therapy, medical bills, and emotional distress that sexual assault causes. A judge may order restitution, but for most victims, this is not enough. Sexual assault at a holiday party, even if it occurs only once, is egregious enough to be considered sexual harassment, which is prohibited by federal, state, and local laws.
In addition to reporting a sexual assault to the authorities, you should follow your employer's guidelines for reporting it. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for this. You should also file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, assuming that Title VII applies.
New York and New York City laws usually offer more expansive protections for sexual harassment than Title VII does. For one thing, New York laws apply to all employers regardless of size, whereas Title VII applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as state and federal employers. Under New York City laws, discriminatory harassment includes actions motivated by a victim's gender, including gender identity or sexual orientation. In addition to statutory claims, you may have common-law claims in a sexual assault case.
Generally, the criminal charges and the civil claim are wholly separate. Someone might be acquitted of sexually assaulting you at a holiday party but still be required to pay you damages for violations of federal, state, or local laws. However, findings made in a criminal case may affect your civil case, so it is a good idea to retain a lawyer to represent you in a sexual harassment claim soon after the incident occurs.Discuss Your Sexual Harassment Case with a New York City Lawyer
If you were sexually assaulted at a holiday party, you should retain an experienced New York City sexual harassment attorney. At Phillips & Associates, we are dedicated to seeing justice served and take a compassionate approach toward employees who have suffered from sexual assault. Contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form to set up a free appointment with a sexual harassment or gender discrimination attorney. We serve employees in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, Westchester, as well as in Suffolk and Nassau Counties.
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