If you’ve been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted at work, you may have a claim against your employer for negligent hiring or negligent supervision. Sometimes an employer hires someone it knows or should know has dangerous tendencies. Sometimes an employer learns that an employee is dangerous after hiring him. If the employer unreasonably hires or retains someone who is dangerous, and that person later sexually harasses or assaults another person at work, the employer can be held liable for negligence. We have experience representing victims of sexual assault or harassment in the workplace and helping them get the treatment and compensation they deserve. Call 412-258-2250, text 412-498-4120 or email [email protected] and get a free consultation with Charles A. Lamberton, one of Pittsburgh top sexual harassment lawyers.
Sexual assault survivors may suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. They result from physiological damage to the Amygdala and to the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC). The amygdala detects threats in the environment and activates the “fight or flight” response and activates the sympathetic nervous system to help deal with the threat. The PFC regulates attention and awareness, make decisions about the best response to a situation, initiate conscious, voluntary behavior, determines the meaning and emotional significance of events, regulate emotions, and inhibits or corrects dysfunctional reactions.
Studies of people with PTSD show a hyper reactive amygdala and a less activated medial PFC. In other words, the amygdala reacts too strongly to a potential threat while the medial PFC is impaired in its ability to regulate the threat response. The consequences present symptomatically in a number of ways.
Symptoms of intrusive memories:
- Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
Symptoms of avoidance:
- Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood:
- Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
- Hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Feeling detached from family and friends
- Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Feeling emotionally numb
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions:
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Always being on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
PTSD is a serious disorder. If you have been the victim of a sexual assault at work, speak with your medical doctor and call our office. We may be able to help you.
Contact an employment lawyer. Tell the person who is harassing you to stop. If you do not feel comfortable confronting the harasser directly, or if the behavior does not stop, check to see if your employer has an anti-harassment policy. It should. It may be on the employer’s website, in the employee handbook or available from HR. If there is a policy, follow the steps in the policy. The policy should give you various options for reporting the harassment, including the option of filing a complaint. If there is no policy, talk with a supervisor or with HR. You can talk with your own supervisor, the supervisor of the person who is harassing you, or any supervisor in the organization. Explain what has happened and ask for that person’s help in getting the behavior to stop. The law protects you from retaliation (punishment) for complaining about harassment. You have a right to report harassment, participate in a harassment investigation or lawsuit, or oppose harassment, without being retaliated against for doing so. Document, document, document. Document everything. Remember to contact an employment lawyer. Depending on your case facts, we can help you file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC to complain about the harassment. There are specific time limits for filing a charge (180 or 300 days, depending on where you work), so contact an employment lawyer promptly. You can also meet with EEOC to discuss your situation and your options. This conversation is confidential.