In the service industry, sexual abuse is common, and most people feel threatened and oppressed. You probably know how embarrassing sexual abuse feels if you have ever been subjected to intimidation and indecent conduct at your workplace, restaurant, hotel, or store. Sexual abuse has been on the rise in industries among service workers. If you face service industry sexual abuse in California, you should seek the services of a skilled and experienced attorney to help you pursue justice. At the Sex Crimes Attorney, we understand the psychological and mental suffering associated with sexual abuse. We will evaluate your case and help you file a winning lawsuit against your abuser. 

Understanding Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse and assault happen in most industries. However, in service industries, the prevalence of the crime is higher. Typically, this is attributed to the industry's corporate governance hierarchy formation, where bosses and other influential individuals take advantage of their positions. Abuse cases are common in hotels, food industries, coffee shops, restaurants, the retail trade, and many other facilities that offer hospitality and retail services.

Bosses and individuals in power can stress their employees by making their job status dependent on their submission to sexual acts. In most cases, many employees who reject sexual submission to their bosses face difficult working conditions. For example, if you reject your boss's sexual advances, he/she could terminate your job.

Men in service industries, just like women, also experience sexual abuse from business owners, supervisors, and managers. Usually, these cases happen because of inequality in power. Sexual abuse has become a way for management to create a dependent workforce.

Managers, bosses, business owners, and supervisors all play an essential role in deciding the norms of the working environment's culture. This usually involves defining the acceptable actions and those that are not acceptable.

Types Of Service Industry Sexual Abuse

The common forms of service industry sexual abuse include:

Hostile Work Environment

Most types of sexual abuse do not involve proposing sexual activities as a condition for employment or advancement. They commonly involve indecent conduct by regular employees. According to the Equality Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), providing a working environment for intimidating, abusive, or hostile workers is unlawful. Therefore, you need to seek an attorney's services if you are a victim of any form of sexual abuse.

Quid Pro Quo

This sexual abuse happens when an employer or supervisor makes undesirable sexual advances toward the employees or workers. In this case, the employer or supervisor aims to give favors in exchange for sexual activities.

The Service Industries Commonly Known For Sexual Abuse

Service industry employees face sexual abuse for various reasons. Some of the service industries with high levels of sexual abuse include:

Healthcare And Social Assistance

Typically, a significant percentage of workplace sexual abuse cases happen in the healthcare and social assistance industries. Sexual abuse is common in this industry because women dominate it. Women of color are usually the main target of sexual abuse in this sector.

Retail Industry

Cases of sexual abuse occur in the retail industry with many sexual abuse allegations being reported in this industry. Retail vulnerability and low wages are the main reasons for a high percentage of sexual abuse. You need legal help if you face sexual abuse in this industry.

Manufacturing Industry

This is another service industry with a significant number of sexual abuse cases. Men dominate most manufacturing jobs, like mechanics and craft workers. Therefore, women joining this industry are the main target for sexual abuse because they are seen as outsiders.

Food And Accommodation Services

The food and accommodation service industry has the highest number of sexual abuse cases among all industries. The contributing factor to this vice in this industry is subminimum salaries whereby workers depend on tips.

The sexualized environment that restaurant workers face is amplified and reflected by the management policies that require women to wear revealing clothes.

What You Should Do After Suffering Service Industry Sexual Abuse

Most people often wonder about the steps they should take after suffering abuse in the service industry. It is normal to feel anxious and afraid to speak out. You could fear that reporting sexual abuse will harm your reputation. However, the steps you take after suffering sexual abuse are crucial. They determine your ability to seek compensation.

Here are some of the steps that you should take when you face service industry sexual abuse.

Ask Your Abuser To Stop

You should not be afraid of facing the abuser and telling them to stop assaulting you sexually. This is the most practical way of preventing sexual abuse in the service industry. You can tell the defendant to stop when he/she starts making indecent comments about your body.

It is crucial to show your abuser that you want the offensive behavior to stop. This will be a message to your abuser that you cannot tolerate their behavior. Write a letter to the perpetrator if you are not comfortable confronting them. You can also write to the abuser if he/she ignores your verbal request.

Report To The Law Enforcement

If you have faced any form of sexual abuse, it is always advisable that you report it to the police. Sexual abuse is a severe crime under California law. When you report the case to the police, the police will prepare a police report. This report will come in handy as evidence of sexual abuse when you file a lawsuit to seek compensation.

Gather Sufficient Evidence

If your supervisor or boss sends you cards, texts, or emails, you are not supposed to erase them. You should print the screenshots of all snap chats or texts he/she sends you. Printing helps secure the evidence in case the phone gets lost, crashes, or you buy another one.

Consult Your Union

You must consult your union representatives if you are an active member. The union representatives will talk to your supervisor or boss if you are uncomfortable speaking directly to them. The union could also report the issue to the police on your behalf. Unfortunately, the union representatives could also advocate for your abuser if he/she is a union member. Therefore, you need to seek the services of a sex crime attorney to assist you in fighting your case. You are assured that your attorney works for you and has your best interests at heart.

Adhere To Your Industry Policies When Reporting The Case

Most companies and industries have policies and rules for reporting sexual abuse. You, therefore, need to check your company's portal, the handbook you secured during onboarding or other relevant paperwork. Unless your employer knows about the sexual, the court will not hold them responsible. It means that if you fail to inform your employer, he/she could claim that he/she was unaware that the abuse was happening.

Usually, your company's rules and regulations direct you to report the matter to the supervisor or any person in the supervisory hierarchy of command. The first step includes filling out online forms if the industry is large or decentralized. The human resources department will likely be informed when you report your case to someone in the hierarchy of command.

You can contact a sex crime attorney to help you. For example, it can be hard to report the matter to your boss if he/she is the perpetrator. The only thing you need to do is have documentation for the case. You should keep records of the complaint of whomever you complained to. If you do this, your company will not allege that you did not report.

In some situations, your attorney could advise you to request a timeline within which your company will investigate your case and give feedback. The company will update you on your case, although they can fail to share all the information about their findings.

Sometimes, the leadership will not punish or fire the abuser as you would wish. It could come up with strategies that aim to prevent the occurrence of the same cases of abuse. The best way to hold the abuser accountable for their actions is by filing a lawsuit against them to seek compensation.

File Your Case With The Local Agency

You can file a sexual abuse case with the local agency at any point. The law demands that you take this step before filing a lawsuit related to sexual abuse, according to federal rules and regulations. However, there is a statute of limitations for you to do so. According to the law, you have six months from the day of the abuse to file your case.

The responsible agency will investigate your case once you file it and ascertain the cause of the crime. The agency will issue you a notice of your right to sue the perpetrator.

File A Lawsuit In Court

You must act within three months if the court grants you the right to file your case. It is also advisable to consult your attorney promptly to avoid missing the deadlines. You must prepare adequately because the court will review specific details of the case. For example, the court will review your medical records to determine if you indeed suffered emotional distress due to the sexual abuse.

The Effects Of Sexual Abuse On Service Industries

Service industries can incur significant losses and costs because of sexual abuse cases, including:

  • Reduced productivity.
  • Employees turnover.
  • Increased rate of absenteeism, and
  • Legal costs.

Reduced Productivity

Typically, sexual abuse in the workplace is associated with a lack of motivation, reduced job satisfaction, and less commitment. Sexual abuse generally affects witnesses, targets, and other workers who hear about the abuse cases. The crime also affects the performance of the team in general.

Employees Turnover

Sexual abuse is a crime that can increase turnover. There is a significant correlation between sexual abuse and women's career advancement. The expenses associated with employee turnover involve more substantial economic costs than litigation costs. It is quite costly to replace an employee.

High Rate Of Absenteeism

A person who is sexually abused can miss work for weeks. A sexually abused person can also take sick or annual leave after the abuse because of psychological and mental trauma.

Legal Costs

A high rate of sexual abuse translates to the possibility of increased legal expenses. A company can incur hefty legal costs when its supervisors or employers perpetrate sexual abuse. Most times, the amount for settling these cases is usually confidential, but it is significant.

The Impact Of Sexual Abuse On The Victim

Sexual abuse can affect you in various ways, including financial, mental, and physical. It can also adversely affect the opportunities to advance your career.

Forced Job Change, Abandonment Of Good Careers, And Unemployment

Unemployment is the main reason most individuals engage in sexual acts with employers to secure jobs. Even if you are in employment, sexual abuse can affect you financially. People in the better-paying sectors risk losing more income than others. However, no matter the salaries involved, the effect of abuse is usually significant.

Reduced Opportunities For Learning And Job Advancement

In most jobs, you can only advance your career and become a skilled employee through instruction and mentorship from more experienced employees. Unfortunately, sexual abuse can restrict you from this kind of learning and advancement. Sexual abuse affects the career advancement of people in all service industries including sciences, medicine, and engineering.

Effects On Mental And Physical Health

Sexual abuse has several effects on mental health, including depression. Sexual abuse can significantly affect your work behavior and psychological well-being, even when it is less severe and infrequent. Besides mental problems, sexual abuse can also cause long-term physical problems. It can also lead to potential workplace accidents if you are distracted and handling dangerous jobs.

Recommendations On How To Deal With Service Industry Sexual Abuse

Some ways to deal with service industry sexual abuse are through training and developing new tools. This strategy will protect employees from sexual abuse and enhance their productivity. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also recommends the following procedures to help reduce the number of sexual abuse cases in the workplace:

  • You are required to assess and identify possible risk factors associated with sexual abuse. You also need to participate in climate surveys to assist you in determining the level of sexual abuse in your industry.
  • Employers must adopt and keep comprehensive anti-abuse policies and rules, always teach the policies to the workers, provide several reporting steps, and investigate the cases arising from the workers.
  • The federal government must invest in research, including developing and fielding new polls. The federal government must also add questions to the current survey regarding sexual abuse at the workplace through agencies like Census Bureau, among others.
  • The labor unions are required to ensure that their reporting systems match those of the employer's.
  • The employer must offer bystander civility training and mitigating training at the workplace — They must also train middle management and supervisors to deal with sexual abuse cases. Researchers are also required to assess the effectiveness of workplace training in reducing the rate of sexual abuse at the workplace.

The Laws Enacted To Address Service Industry Sexual Abuse

Various Bills have been passed on the heels of the "Me Too" movement to deal with sexual abuse in the service industry. Governor Newsom signed the Bills into law in 2019, and they include:

Assembly Bill 9

This is a Stop Harassment and Reporting Extension (SHARE) statute. It extends your right to file a complaint with the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) from one year to three years. Workplace abuse includes retaliation because of your protected characteristics, including disability, age, religion, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, sex, and gender. It also includes discrimination.

Assembly Bill 51

This law prohibits employers from demanding signed agreements with employees to waive their right to arbitrate FEHA accusations as a condition for securing a job. AB 51 also prohibits employers from firing, threatening, retaliating against, or discriminating against workers who fail to sign any waiver.

Arbitration waivers were common for securing jobs in sectors like hospitality and food service. Women dominate these sectors and are ranked among the highest victims of sexual abuse cases. This statute protects the rights of workers to sue against sexual abuse.

Assembly Bill 547

This law was enacted to prevent sexual abuse in the construction and janitorial sectors. It is an extension of Assembly Bill 1978 that former governor Jerry Brown signed into law in 2016. The law allows you to undergo training about preventing sexual abuse in the construction and janitorial industries every two years.

Assembly Bill 547 allows the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to formulate training for employers so that they can fulfill this requirement. The DLSE must also develop a list of organizations and peer trainers eligible to offer in-person prevention training for non-supervisory staff.

Senate Bill 1343

This statute was enacted in 2018, and it is significant. Before its enactment, only employers with 50 or more workers must adhere to the sexual abuse prevention training. The training was also meant only for supervisory personnel. This statute extended the training to employers with five or more workers, and currently, it includes non-supervisory personnel.

Damages You Can Recover In Service Industry Sexual Abuse Case

There is no stipulated average settlement for sexual abuse offenses. Lawsuits are unique, and you will recover damages depending on the severity of the injuries suffered and the circumstances surrounding your case. You should consult an attorney immediately when you suffer sexual abuse to help you have an accurate estimate of your lawsuit's worth.

Your attorney will consider the following damages when calculating the losses:

  • Punitive damages — The court awards punitive damages to punish the defendant for extremely reckless conduct. Punitive damages seek to discourage the defendant from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
  • Reputation damage — The sexual abuse could have tainted your name. You can seek compensation for this reputational.
  • Emotional distress — Suffering sexual abuse could affect your well-being and self-worth. You could experience immense sadness, bitterness, and hopelessness. You could seek compensation for the emotional pain resulting from the abuse.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Lost income — If you spent time away from work or other income-generating activities after suffering damage from sexual abuse, you can seek compensation for lost revenue.
  • Medical expenses compensate you for all the costs you incurred in seeking treatment for the injuries sustained by sexual abuse. You should not just focus on past and present expenses when seeking compensation for medical expenses. You should also focus on the medical costs you are likely to incur in the future, including rehabilitation costs.
  • Mental anguish — You can be compensated for any torment or suffering you experience due to the sexual abuse.

Back Pay

Back pay is the money you would have made while facing retaliation after filing the sexual abuse case until it is settled. Back pay could include the following:

  • Insurance benefits.
  • Bonuses and commissions.
  • Stock options.
  • Pension or retirement.
  • Wages.

Front Pay

The court could award you front pay to compensate you for the income you lost from the settlement award date into the future. Front pay is usually determined by the following:

  • The period you will take to secure another job.
  • The period you would have taken at that job had you not been sexually abused.

Other damages you could recover include:

  • Any lost promotion.
  • Expert witness fees.
  • Attorney's fees and costs.

Find A Sex Crimes Attorney Near Me

When you suffer sexual abuse in the service industry, you will likely be embarrassed or scared to admit your ordeal. You can fear disclosing the sexual abuse will lead to a job loss or a tainted reputation. However, you should never conceal sexual abuse. You can hold the defendant liable and seek compensation for the damages suffered. If you are a victim of service industry sexual abuse in California, contact our lawyers at Sex Crimes Attorney. We will help you file a lawsuit against the defendant to seek compensation for the injuries you sustained. Contact us at 888-666-8480 to speak to one of our attorneys.