According to a report from the United States Department of Justice, approximately 50,000 people were sexually assaulted while they were at work in 2009. If you have been a victim of sexual assault in the workplace, it's important to know your rights.
Title VII and TCHRA
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in the workplace, including sexual harassment. The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act is a Texas law, modeled after Title VII.
While these laws provide certain protections for workers againts sexual harassment, these laws are often problematic for sexual harassment victims because they have strict deadlines that are much shorter than the orindary statue of limitations period, require the filing of administrative complaints before a lawsuit can be filed, and have caps on damages based upon the size of the employer.
Sexual Assault vs. Sexual harassment
While sexual assault and sexual harassment can often overlap, the Texas Supreme Court recently clarified in B.C. v. Steak N Shake Operations, Inc. when those claims are separate and distinct. In that case, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously held that a person who is a victim of a singular instance of sexual assault by their boss, as opposed to a series of harassing behaviors over time, can bypass the administrative procedures required by Title VII and the TCHRA and proceed straight to court.
This is important for sexual assault victims because it may not only allow them to file a lawsuit without the strict deadlines for filing an administrative complaint, but it also allows a victim to obtain damages in excess of the caps on damages imposed by Title VII and the TCHRA.
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault at work, you need to reach out to an experienced attorney immediately. You are entitled to justice.