Fort Smith Sexual Abuse Attorneys
Nothing can prepare you for the pain, confusion, and devastation that accompanies incidents of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. Sadly, it happens all too frequently. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every two minutes. As you work through the process of recovery, you will need to remember that what happened was not your fault; you have every right to seek compensation for the suffering that you or your loved one was made to endure.
Sexual abuse crimes can leave physical injuries, but it is the emotional pain and suffering that a victim of sexual abuse or harassment endures that can have long-lasting effects. Hiring a Fort Smith attorney experienced in the area of sexual abuse law can ease the burden of handling a lawsuit while you’re in psychological distress.
At McCutchen & Sexton – The Law Firm, our Fort Smith sexual abuse attorneys understand just how complex and challenging the legal process can be for people who have survived sexual assault. With that in mind, our Fort Smith legal team is here to help you navigate through the legal process while you continue to recover.
Where does sexual abuse happen?
Sexual abuse can occur anywhere and under any number of circumstances. Some common circumstances in which sexual abuse occurs include:
- In doctor’s offices
- In schools
- In the office
- At the home
Sadly, many sexual predators find themselves in positions of power and use this to victimize vulnerable individuals such as children. Often, children and teens are sexually abused by someone they know. Though it should never occur under any circumstances, abuse involving a person who holds a position of power, such as a doctor, therapist, teacher, clergy member, or camp counselor, can be particularly troubling.
What is sexual harassment?
In the state of Arkansas, the law states that employment discrimination based on gender is prohibited. The state’s courts have interpreted this prohibition to include sexual harassment in the workplace.
Sexual harassment occurs when your employment is affected, or there is “unreasonable interference” with your job performance by a co-worker’s unwelcome sexual behavior. Sexual harassment also occurs when that type of behavior creates a “hostile work environment.”
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical bullying or coercion that is sexual in nature will all be considered acts of sexual harassment. Showing explicit pictures and making obscene sounds are forms of sexual harassment as well. However, a co-worker’s actions do not have to be overtly sexual. Even continuously asking a person for a date, especially when it is clear that the invitation is unwelcome, can be considered sexual harassment.
Cases involving sexual harassment in the workplace can be complicated. The complexities arise in the very beginning when the harassment is subtle, and you are unsure that it even occurred. Sexual harassment in the workplace can fall under two categories of harassment: “quid-pro-quo” and “hostile work environment.” Quid-pro-quo is the more obvious form of sexual harassment. Hostile work environment harassment can sometimes be more discreet.
When sexual harassment in the workplace creates a “quid pro quo” sexual harassment situation, your job or an advancement in your workplace may be dependent on whether or not you date or perform sexual favors for another employee. This is typically done by someone in a position of power over you. If someone in your workplace, especially a superior, has offered a benefit in exchange for some sexual act, you were likely a victim of quid-pro-quo sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment that occurs in a workplace may create what is known as a “hostile work environment” if co-workers, supervisors, vendors, or other individuals that the employee encounters daily engage in any of the following actions:
- Inappropriate jokes or innuendo
- Indecent touching or gesturing
- Talking about sex acts or sexual topics
- Sexual coercion
- Repeated requests for dates
- Showing pictures that are sexual in nature
To recover for harassment that created a hostile work environment, it is also sufficient to show that the co-worker’s actions create an offensive or intimidating environment.
If you have been sexually harassed at work, you should speak with one of our Fort Smith attorneys to begin evaluating the legal action that you may be able to pursue against your employer.
Sexual Abuse and Employer Liability
If you are a loved one has been sexually abused or assaulted while in school, at the doctor, in church, or by an employee of some business or organization, you may be able to hold the employer or institution liable. This is often the approach to these cases since the company or the organization is likely to have the resources to compensate you for your injuries and the abuser does not.
Vicarious liability, or holding an employer liable for an employee’s actions, usually requires that the employee was working “within the scope of their employment” when the injury occurred. However, there are other instances where the employer can be liable for an employee’s sexual abuse.
As history has shown, there are times when a school or a church will ignore a person’s history of sexual abuse or the warning signs of the current abuse. The institution or employer was aware of the past or present behavior of the employee and was held liable for their actions. A skilled and experienced attorney will know the best strategy for proving that the employer had this knowledge at the time the sexual assault took place.
What To Do if You’ve Been Sexually Abused
If you are a loved one has been sexually abused, the first thing is to go to a doctor or the hospital. Here, a medical professional will treat any injuries and perform necessary tests. It is essential to keep a copy of all medical records, including diagnosis, treatment, and costs. Additionally, seek professional mental help. Often times, sexual abuse cases affect mental health, even if you don’t realize it.
Next, contact the attorneys at McCutchen & Sexton – The Law Firm. Our experienced attorneys will provide you with information regarding the compensation you may be entitled to receive as a result of your sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can affect your physical and mental health, and go on to affect your economic well-being and family life. Our skilled attorneys will work to hold the abuser liable for your injuries so that you can get back to what you love.
What Compensation Can I Get in a Sexual Harassment Case?
When you’ve been sexually harassed at work, you want to be compensated for the emotional pain you’ve endured and the costly medical bills for treating it. Sexual harassment can leave a psychological scar for years to come, and you have a right to be compensated for these costs.
Under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act, actions towards you that rise to the level of employment discrimination, including sexual harassment, entitle you to a few types of recovery. The court may order future discrimination practices to be prohibited through an injunction, reinstate you as an employee if your employment was terminated, or award monetary relief.
Monetary types of recovery include:
- Back pay – this includes any wages you lost from the date of the harassment or termination of your employment to the date of the settlement or trial.
- Compensatory damages – these damages are meant to compensate you for the income you lost as a result of missing work. They are also meant to help you recover from the costs associated with needing medical treatment, including psychological treatment.
- Punitive damages – although less likely to be awarded, these damages are meant to punish the employer for allowing the harassment to occur. Additionally, they are awarded to deter future sexual harassment behavior by employees.
Consult with a Sexual Abuse Attorney in Fort Smith
Cases dealing with verbal and/or physical abuse are extremely sensitive and should be handled by an experienced Fort Smith lawyer. Cases dealing with sexual abuse can be even more sensitive. You should be represented by someone with experience and knowledge in sexual abuse and harassment law. At McCutchen & Sexton – The Law Firm, our Fort Smith sexual abuse attorneys have the care, compassion, and knowledge that you or your loved one will need. We understand that what you are going through is difficult and our Fort Smith legal team is here to help. To begin discussing your case with one of our Fort Smith attorneys, please call our offices at (479) 783-0036 or fill out one of our online contact forms today.