Sexual assault or harassment is an egregious abuse of power, with individuals in positions of authority exploiting the vulnerable, often assuming immunity due to their standing in the community. However, perpetrators can and should be held accountable for their actions under the law, facing consequences for sexual harassment, assault, and abuse.
The workplace is a common setting for abuse of power to occur. Supervisors, who hold the keys to benefits like raises, bonuses, and promotions, may exploit their position to manipulate and coerce those under their authority. Employees may find themselves coerced into providing sexual favors in exchange for work-related rewards or threatened with negative performance evaluations, demotions, or even termination.
Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. By filing a complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), they have the opportunity to seek damages and justice.
Abuse of Power by Law Enforcement
Instances of police misconduct have witnessed a concerning rise in recent years. Police officers and other law enforcement officials, wielding their authority, may engage in wrongful actions, including:
- Tampering with witnesses or evidence
- Coercing false confessions
- Engaging in racial profiling
- Committing acts of sexual misconduct
- Wrongful arrests
- Misusing sensitive public information
While state actors generally enjoy qualified immunity, victims of government abuse of power can potentially seek recourse by filing civil rights claims under Section 1983.
Closing the Loophole: Amendment to California Extortion Statute
Previously, California law defined extortion as the wrongful use of force, fear, or the color of official right to obtain property or an official act of a public officer. In response to the #MeToo movement, SB500 was signed into law, proposing an amendment to include obtaining consideration in the statute. Consideration is broadly defined as anything of value, encompassing specific sexual acts or images.
Monetary Compensation for Sexual Assault
While criminal law can hold perpetrators of sexual harassment accountable, victims typically pursue monetary compensation through civil lawsuits. However, there is no specific cause of action for sexual assault, requiring plaintiffs to sue under alternative legal theories like civil assault, battery, or intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Damages in these cases may cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering resulting from the abuse. It’s important to note that the defendant’s personal assets limit the scope of recovery, as individuals often lack sufficient funds, while entities may have substantial resources.
If the abuse of power occurred in settings like schools, nursing homes, or workplaces, plaintiffs might be able to sue the institution in addition to the individual perpetrator under the legal theory of negligent supervision. Adequate supervision standards vary depending on the circumstances. Given the complexity of abuse of power cases, especially when entities are involved, it is advisable to consult an attorney to understand your legal rights and explore available options.
Seek Justice with Los Angeles Abuse of Power Attorneys at Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP
If you have suffered harm at the hands of someone in a position of power, don’t hesitate to reach out to the dedicated abuse of power attorneys at Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP. Our compassionate and relentless legal team will fight to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. Serving clients throughout California, we have offices in Los Angeles and San Diego. Contact us online or call 833-ACTS-LAW for a free consultation.