Portland Employment Lawyers
Sexual harassment and assault at work continue to be widespread problems for many employees in a variety of occupations. These actions create a hostile workplace that makes it difficult for employees to focus on their work and advancing in their careers. If you have been a victim of assault or harassment at your job, it is important to know your rights and the legal options you may have. The Portland employment attorneys at Rizk Law are ready to pursue compensation and other remedies for the damages you suffered from harassment or assault.
You can schedule a free legal consultation today to get started and learn more about how we can help you. Our attorneys have thorough knowledge of federal and state laws and procedures governing sexual assault in the workplace, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and filing a civil rights complaint with Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).
Schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation today to get started. Call 503.245.5677.
What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?
Federal and state law define workplace sexual harassment as requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances or sexual conduct (verbal, physical or visual conduct) that is aimed at an individual because of his or her gender. Non-sexual conduct could also be included if it is gender related and offensive.
This type of conduct must fit into one of two categories to rise to the level of harassment:
- Quid pro quo harassment - It must be a condition of employment or the reason for an employment decision about the employee. In other words, the conduct must explicitly or implicitly affect your employment – if you do not submit to this conduct or behavior, you could lose your job, get suspended or demoted or face other employment action. For example, a supervisor could request sexual favors and say that if you refuse you could lose your job.
- Harassment that creates a hostile environment - The conduct must be so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating workplace. There are times when a series of incidents create a hostile workplace. However, there may also be situations when one incident creates this kind of workplace. Under Oregon law, sexual harassment creates a hostile environment when it is so severe and pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with your ability to do your job.
Common Forms of Harassment
There are a variety of behaviors, including words, gestures, pictures or physical contact, that could be considered sexual harassment under federal or state law, including:
- Touching a coworker in an inappropriate way, including kissing, rubbing, patting, pinching, grabbing or brushing up against the person
- Staring at someone in a sexually suggestive way
- Gesturing in a sexually suggestive manner
- Whistling at someone while he or she walks by
- Continuing to flirt with a coworker or ask the person out on a date even though the person has told you not to
- Touching yourself in an inappropriate way around another employee
- Giving someone a massage when he or she does not want it
- Making sexually suggestive comments about a coworker's body or appearance
- Asking about someone's sexual history
- Sending emails or text messages that are sexually explicit
- Promising advancement or a job in exchange for sex acts
- Making jokes of a sexual nature or telling sexual anecdotes
- Sharing pornography
- Insults of a sexual nature
- Insulting someone's sexual orientation
- Blocking someone's path
The person doing the harassing can be a man or a woman, and there is no requirement that the victim be someone of the opposite sex. There are also cases when the victim is not the direct target of harassment, but someone else who is affected by it.
Some people might think there is no harassment if the victim does not lose his or her job. However, that is not true, harassment can occur without the loss of employment or another economic injury to the victim.
If you were the victim of any type of behavior that you think qualifies as harassment, you may have legal options. The Portland employment lawyers at Rizk Law can discuss your legal options in a free, no obligation legal consultation.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is any intentional physical contact of a sexual nature that happens to you without your consent. This could include things like:
- Fondling or touching of a sexual nature
- Forcing someone to perform different sex acts
- Attempted rape
- Rape, which occurs when the victim's body is penetrated
If you do not give consent for these actions, they are against the law and the perpetrator could be criminally charged for his or her conduct. Consent usually means verbally saying you consent to what is happening. If you physically resist the perpetrator, this means you have not given consent.
If you were intoxicated, unconscious or physically incapable of refusing to take part in what the other person is doing, you are incapable of refusing consent.
There can be overlap between sexual assault and harassment. For example, someone touching you in a sexual way without your consent could be considered harassment and assault.
Often the perpetrators of sexual assault already know the victim. This could include coworkers at your place of employment. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), approximately seven in 10 rapes are committed by people who already know the victim.
If you were the victim of rape or another form of sexual assault, you should contact law enforcement to pursue criminal charges against the perpetrator.
However, while the criminal justice system may hold this person accountable, a criminal case will not provide compensation for the damages caused by your assault. This is why you should consider contacting a Portland employment attorney to discuss the compensation you may be able to recover in a civil case, which might include:
- Medical bills, including the cost of psychiatric counseling
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Lost earnings
Call Rizk Law today for a free, no-risk consultation about your legal rights. 503.245.5677
Compensation for Sexual Harassment
When you meet with a trusted employment lawyer in Portland, he or she can review your situation to determine what happened, the damages you suffered and compensation and other remedies you may be owed.
The remedies available may depend on the type of claim you file, whether it is with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), BOLI or a civil lawsuit. However, some common forms of compensation for sexual harassment/assault victims can include:
- Payment for any earnings you lost due to discrimination
- Payment for bonuses, commissions, pay increases, retirement benefits or vacation days you lost because you suffered discrimination
- Reinstatement to your previous position if you were terminated or demoted
- Attorney fees to cover the legal costs of your lawyer
- Promotion if you were denied it due to harassment
- Medical expenses you incurred because you were harassed
- Future lost wages if you cannot be reinstated to your previous employment situation before you were a victim of harassment
- Compensation for emotional problems you experienced due to harassment, such as depression
- Changes at your place of employment, which might include required trainings or changes in the way sexual harassment is handled
- Costs of doing a job search if you lost your job due to harassment or not submitting to harassment
- Lost enjoyment of life caused by the harassment
- Inconvenience you experienced because of the harassment
- Punitive damages to punish the perpetrator and/or your employer
Oregon does not limit damages in personal injury lawsuits over sexual harassment. However, if you file an EEOC charge, the following limits on compensatory and punitive damages exist:
- $50,000 for companies with 15-100 employees
- $100,000 for companies with 101-200 employees
- $200,000 for companies that have between 201 and 500 employees
- $300,000 for companies with more than 500 employees
Our Portland employment lawyers can help determine the forms of compensation and other remedies you may be entitled.
Contact us today at 503.245.5677 for a free legal consultation.
Time Limits for Filing Sexual Assault/Harassment Complaints
You have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit or state or federal complaint about sexual harassment or assault in your workplace.
Under federal anti-discrimination law, charges must be filed within 180 days of the day discrimination occurred. However, the deadline is 300 days if you live in a state, like Oregon, that enforces a law prohibiting the same type of discrimination covered by federal law.
If you want to file a claim for violations of Oregon anti-discrimination laws, you must file a complaint with Oregon's BOLI within one year of the date discrimination occurred.
You can still file a lawsuit after filing a claim with BOLI, or you can simply file a lawsuit first. However, if you want to file a lawsuit over violations of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, you must first file a claim with the EEOC or BOLI.
The deadline for filing a sexual harassment/assault civil lawsuit is governed by the personal injury statute of limitations, which is two years from the date of the incident that gave rise to your lawsuit. If you do not file within that timeframe, you lose the right to file this type of lawsuit.
The Portland employment attorneys at Rizk Law can help ensure your claim is filed within the appropriate deadline so you do not lose the opportunity to pursue the justice and compensation you are entitled.
Call the firm today to learn more about your legal options and how a lawyer can help you.
What to Know About the Legal Process
Whenever an employee is a victim of sexual harassment, he or she should report it to the employer and follow the employer's procedures for dealing with the situation. Sometimes the situation can be resolved this way. At the very least, following these procedures will show the seriousness of your situation and potentially help you build a case when you file a complaint or lawsuit later.
The EEOC and the civil rights division of Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries have their own procedures for filing complaints about sexual harassment or assault.
The process starts with you submitting a complaint detailing what happened. This is followed by an investigation into what happened to gather all the relevant facts. If the EEOC cannot substantiate your charge it will be dismissed. In a state claim, if it is determined that an extended investigation is unlikely to uncover substantial evidence supporting the allegations, your case will also be closed.
If your case is closed, the EEOC or BOLI will notify you of your right to file a civil action in court to pursue compensation.
In both processes, investigators may make attempts to reach a settlement of the complaint. In a state complaint, if there is substantial evidence of a violation, a form notice of Substantial Evidence Determination will be sent out. After this, you may be able to resolve the situation through conciliation. This settlement could also occur during the investigation.
The Portland employment lawyers at our firm have in-depth knowledge of the legal process for sexual assault and harassment claims. We can represent you at each stage of the process, keeping you informed and fighting for your rights. This includes negotiating a settlement and explaining if it is in your best interest to accept a settlement or file a lawsuit.
Complete our Free Case Evaluation form today.
Retaliation for Filing a Claim or Lawsuit
One of the main reasons people do not file sexual harassment claims is because they fear retaliation from their employer. This can include things like:
- Verbal or physical abuse
- Spreading false rumors about you
- Making your work much more difficult
- Termination of employment
- Transfer to a less desirable job
- Poor performance evaluation
However, it is illegal under federal and state law to retaliate against an employee for engaging in protected activities, which includes things like:
- Filing a state or federal discrimination complaint
- Being a witness in a discrimination complaint, investigation or lawsuit
- Talking to a supervisor or manager about sexual harassment
- Resisting sexual advances
- Reporting criminal activity
The employment lawyers in Portland at our firm know that even though retaliation is illegal, employers still do it. This is why you should consider being represented by an attorney. Our lawyers know how to fight back if you are discriminated against or are the victim of retaliation for standing up against harassment or assault.
Call an attorney today to determine your legal options. 503.245.5677.
Contact a Portland Employment Lawyer Right Now
Our attorneys understand what victims of workplace assault and harassment go through, professionally, medically and emotionally. We are prepared to help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve, because we know how this can be a part of helping you move forward after harassment or assault.
If you were harassed at your job, you should strongly consider contacting an employment attorney in Portland as soon as possible. There is a limited amount of time to pursue compensation and the faster you contact us, the more time we will have to investigate and build a strong case to pursue the compensation you are entitled.
Schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation right now to discuss your options. Call 503.245.5677.