It is sad to think in today's world; there is a gap between class dimensions for accountability in sexual abuse and harassment. Low-wage worker sexual abuse victims often have to suffer in silence, afraid to speak out against sexual abuse crimes committed by their supervisors or someone over them in authority.
Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm recognizes and fights against this injustice. If you have been a victim of low-wage worker sexual abuse, you have rights and can seek compensation.
Low-Wage Worker Sexual Abuse in Today’s Workforce
Low-wage worker sexual abuse and sexual harassment are frequent in industries dominated by low-wage workers. This fact has been proven in an analysis conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More than half of the women working in the food industry, such as restaurants, experience unwanted and scary sexual behavior. There about forty percent of the women in the fast-food industry who also report unwanted sexual advance encounters when they are on the job.
In a study conducted by the Hart Research Associates; it showed more than forty percent of the women who suffer from low-wage sexual abuse or harassment felt as though they had to accept it or lose their job. The numbers of sexual abuse and harassment are high in this industry due to the difference in wages and power. The imbalance of power in people of two different positions is a huge part of sexual abuse.
Men in these industries are not often held accountable as food servers and housekeepers being harassed and abused are afraid of retaliation. These low-wage workers depend highly on their paychecks and are fearful of jeopardizing the loss of them. Some women are so scared of being reported to immigration services if they speak out against sexual abuse, that they stay silent about the abuse.
Reporting sexual abuse or harassment is scary for anybody, but if speaking out threatens a person financially and when that paycheck is the only thing between your family and homelessness, silence is often chosen. Studies show there are three out of four women who experience low-wage sexual abuse who never speak out against their union representative, manager, or supervisor. This number is probably due to the fact that almost three-fourths of those who have spoken out suffered some form of retaliation.
Sexual abuse and harassment at work have serious implications for employers and the women who are suffering the abuse. Women who have become targets experience a range of consequences, which are almost always negative. This abuse affects their mental and physical health; it interrupts their career and often lowers their wages. Sexual abuse can also discourage or limit women from advancing into higher paid jobs. This harassment and abuse can also contribute to a persistent gender wage gap. Low-wage worker sexual abuse can also intersect with other forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation, disability, age, ethnicity, or race.
Proving Low-Wage Sexual Abuse
Proving low-wage sexual abuse can be challenging. In most cases, it will come down to your word against that of a supervisor, manager, or someone else in a higher position. To prove to the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that your employer has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, you have to prove the abuse or harassment was pervasive and severe.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
Under the Civil Rights Act, Title VII federal laws that protect employees against discrimination based on sex, religion, race, or national origin. Under Title VII, your employer cannot discriminate with regards to any condition, the privilege of employment, or term. Areas this discrimination might affect include promoting, transferring, training, recruiting, hiring, discharging, measuring job performance, providing benefits, or disciplining.
Title VII applies to both public and private sector employers who have more than 15 employees working for them. It also applies to labor organizations, employment agencies, and the federal government. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces these laws.
No employee working for a company covered under Title VII, or anyone applying to work for a company covered by this Title can be treated differently with regards to any workplace decision based on national origin, sex, religion, or race. It also cannot be held against a person if they have an association with one of these protected characteristics.
- Violation of Title VII for Low-Wage Worker Sexual Abuse
Employment policies and practices may be discriminatory under Title II based on the disparate impact or disparate treatment.
- Disparate impact under U.S. labor law refers to employment, housing, and other practice areas which affect one group of people of a protected characteristic more than another
- Disparate treatment- is a way for one to prove illegal discrimination
Title VII prohibits harassment based on a victim's employment or membership in a protected class. Harassment is defined as an unwelcome act that can be considered severe or pervasive. The employee needs to advise their employer that they find the action offensive. Failure to give notice of offensiveness can affect a discrimination claim.
It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against their employees for opposing discrimination. If a claim is filed with the EEOC, an employer must accept the investigation of this entity without applying any adverse effects to the employee's job or wage.
Low-wage and poor women are often not believed when they report instances of sexual abuse or harassment. Sadly, society's willingness to believe sexually abused or harassed victims is not extended equally to all. In some industries, such as domestic workers, employees have several bosses and are unsure where to report abusive situations. Sometimes these women work as independent contractors, which makes it especially difficult to report sexual abuse.
Title VII, under the Civil Rights Act, can be a tool for women who suffer from low-wage sexual abuse when employed by a company or business, but those who are independent contractors are not covered under the Act.
Rights for Low-Wage Sexual Abuse Victims
As a worker protected under Title VII, it is your right to file a complaint with the EEOC to bring a sexual harassment case under Federal Law. It would be to your advantage to have an attorney when going through this process. Contact Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm to discuss your case and find out what your options are for seeking compensation and justice for this crime against you.
The United States Department of Justice defines sexual assault as 'nonconsensual sexual act prohibited by State, Tribal, or Federal laws. This act includes when a victim cannot give consent'. Sexual assault is a criminal offense, and the law recognizes sexual abuse and harassment as employment discrimination.
The EEOC (United States Equal Employment Opportunites Commission) states request for sexual favors, unwanted sexual favors, and other forms of physical or verbal harassment and abuse of a sexual nature is considered sexual harassment. It is unlawful conduct, whether it implicitly or explicitly affects how an employee performs their job or unreasonably interferes with an employee's work performance, creates an offensive work environment, or creates intimidation.
It is considered abuse or harassment if it includes unwelcome nonverbal, verbal, or physical conduct that is of a sexual nature or based on one's sex. To meet the legal standards for action, low-wage sexual abuse must be pervasive or severe and affect the employee's working condition.
Any victim of low-wage worker sexual abuse or any form of employee sexual abuse has to bring a charge to the EEOC or a cooperating state agency as the first step. Research shows only a small number of those involved in workplace sexual abuse ever formally report the incidents. Because of the low numbers being reported, and the high number of reports regarding retaliation for those who did, the EEOC convened a select task force to study harassment in the workplace. The task force was assembled to look not only at harassment that met the legal definition but also at conduct and behavior that may be responsible for stages of unlawful harassment.
Employment Types with High Risk of Low Wage Sexual Abuse
Some of the factors that were identified as having an increased risk of sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace identified certain employment types. Some of those employment types include:
- Work in an isolated context
An isolated context for employment includes domestic care workers, hotel workers, janitors, and agricultural workers as they often perform their duties in isolated areas. These employees report a higher than average rate of sexual abuse and harassment. Working in a remote area leaves an employee vulnerable to abusers who may feel emboldened by a lack of witnesses.
- Work for tips
Employees in the accommodation and food services that include hotel housekeepers and wait staff are typically considered 'tipped' employees. This sector of workers accounts for fourteen percent of abuse or harassment charges to the EEOC. One survey conducted by the Restaurant Opportunities Center found that women restaurant workers who relied on tips as their main source of income, were twice as likely to experience sexual abuse or harassment. This same survey also showed that women continued to work in this field in spite of the sexual harassment as their tips were an essential part of their income.
- Work in male-dominated jobs
Women who are employed where there is a small majority of females, especially in physical environments or in workplaces that traditionally focus on male-oriented tasks, are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse and harassment. In one survey, six in ten women who worked in the construction field reported experiencing sexual harassment frequently, if not daily.
A study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences documented high levels of sexual abuse and harassment within women faculty and staff. Women in engineering, science, and medicine academics reported more frequent sexual abuse than other female colleagues.
- Working in an environment with significant power differentials
There are many workplaces that have significant power differentials between employees. This imbalance of power, particularly in low-wage worker scenarios, the likelihood of sexual abuse and harassment are much higher.
Workers in junior positions are also concerned with retaliation when it comes to handling internal complaints against those in positions higher than theirs.
The term ‘rainmaker’ is applied to someone who is well-recognized in the workplace, a well-known professor, or a high-earning partner who does not feel they have to comply with the rules governing other employees. The ‘rainmaker’ feels they will not be disciplined if accused of sexual abuse or assault.
- Workers who lack legal immigration or are working on a temporary visa
Undocumented workers or those working in the country on a temporary visa are at particular risk for sexual abuse or assault. Food processing, agriculture, janitorial services, garment factories, and domestic work fields constitute a lot of undocumented employees.
These employees have the same rights to file a complaint against sexual abuse as any other employee; however, they have more to fear when filing a claim. Many of these victims may not understand their rights or might find it hard to access legal support without knowing the English language. These victims often have the greatest fear, which would be deportation if they report or file a claim for sexual abuse.
These risk factors or employment types are often intersected with other forms of discrimination. In addition, working in low-wage employment in itself entails a higher risk of abuse. Low-wage workers often work in smaller and less-formalized workplaces. These workplaces do not have official complaint mechanisms.
Earning low wages might make it more difficult to leave a job or to risk losing the job if a complaint is filed. Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm understands these fears and wants to help you find the justice you deserve. Being a low-wage worker does not mean you do have rights, and we are here to protect those rights for you.
Low-Wage Worker Sexual Abuse Costs Victims
Low-wage worker sexual abuse costs victims, or any victim, in several ways. It can affect your physical and mental health, your finances, and even your chance to advance in your career.
- Reduced opportunities for advancement or on-the-job learning
In most fields, becoming skilled in your job and advancing in the profession, depends on your on-the-job mentorship and instruction from more experienced workers. Abuse or harassment can restrict access to these learning opportunities.
A study conducted on these situations found sexual abuse can affect a person's career advancement by leading them to give up their tenure opportunities or drop major research projects in the engineering, sciences, and medicine academics. Sexual abuse in these fields also has victims stepping down from leadership opportunities to avoid their perpetrator.
- Adverse physical or mental health effects
Studies found that sexual abuse plays serious adverse mental health effects. These studies also show one in ten women who have experienced sexual abuse display severe symptoms of depression, and some even met the symptoms that met the definition of PTSD. These serious symptoms can last for years after the abuse. There are also psychological effects suffered by victims, which play a part in their well-being and work behaviors.
Adverse mental health affects long-term physical health well-being. It can lead to an increased risk of workplace accidents as a worker can become distracted while working in a dangerous job. The workplace becomes dangerous to a victim when they are uncertain when abuse will occur or what the repercussions could be for either refusing the sexual advances or reporting them. These adverse effects can lead to significant costs related to physical and mental health services.
- Forced unemployment, job change, or abandonment of career
Unemployment is a major concern for women, so it makes it difficult for them to file a complaint about sexual abuse as they feel they may lose their job. One study on women who filed sexual abuse complaints found that eight in ten began a new position within two years of filing the claim. The study also showed that these women suffered financial stress as a result of their job change. Many women leave their work field as a result of some form of sexual abuse.
Defense for Low-Wage Worker Sexual Abuse
There are times defendants in a sexual abuse case will admit to behaviors in question but might argue the victim consented. You will want experienced legal representation to help you prove the worker sexual abuse you suffered was unwelcome and nonconsensual.
It will be difficult for a defendant to prove consent. They may try and use your past sexual history as a means of showing you gave permission. An experienced personal injury attorney knowledgable in sexual abuse cases can fight this line of defense and show you were the victim and deserve justice.
Both the State and Federal laws make it illegal to commit workplace harassment or abuse. If you are a victim of low-wage worker sexual abuse, you are entitled to file a civil rights claim. You can seek justice by filing a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the EEOC. Your charges of sexual abuse will be investigated, and if found, they will seek remedies on your behalf.
California law also allows you to file a claim against your abuser for torts including but not limited to battery, false imprisonment, assault, or the infliction of emotional distress. When sexual abuse is involved, a claim of assault and battery are most common.
Litigation on low-wage worker sexual abuse cases is complicated and can be time-consuming. You may have your employment, medical, and psychiatric files subpoenaed. Work with Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm to ensure your privacy is protected as much as possible. There are strategies to protect a worker's privacy, and we will do everything possible to make sure only the information needed to prove your case is released.
During the litigation, your employer may try to take advantage of your vulnerability, and it may be a complicated process to go through. Know that sexual abuse is not acceptable, but is illegal. Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm understands how challenging this endeavor will be and is on your side to make things go as smoothly as possible.
Another fear of many victims of worker sexual abuse is being deported. Even though California Labor Code states that immigration status is irrelevant to enforce state laws, your employer may attempt to question your immigrant status to attempt to get out of these charges. Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm will make every attempt not to allow any inquiry regarding your immigration status come into play during your claim.
Remedies of low-wage worker sexual abuse is not a speedy process. Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm will stand beside you throughout this process. One factor in delaying justice is the slow-moving administrative process. There is a statute of limitations involved with these cases, which means having proper legal counsel is vital to ensure your claim is filed appropriately and in a timely manner.
California law requires employers to remedy complaints of sexual abuse and assault. The FEHA has established a separate cause of action against them if they fail to take all reasonable steps to prevent the abuse from continuing. If your employer has not taken these steps, talk to Stop Sexual Abuse Law firm regarding your employer's liability.
There may be barriers for low-wage workers who face workplace sexual abuse, but this does not mean there are not ways to seek justice and compensation. In order to overcome some of these barriers within the litigation and administrative process, attorneys have begun to represent workers in pre-litigation and administrative processes. If your employer fails to investigate and remedy your abuse properly, contact an attorney.
Find Help Near Me for Low-Wage Worker Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse in the workplace is illegal, and no matter what occupation you are in, you have the right to legal representation and justice. Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm is ready to stand beside you and fight for your rights to work in a safe environment. Contact us at 310-359-9451 to discuss your case and discover what your legal options are for filing a claim.