Sexual assault or harassment is an abuse of power. Supervisors, law enforcement, religious leaders, and others in positions of power often exploit those who are vulnerable, believing that they will be shielded by their status in the community. However, perpetrators may be held liable for sexual harassment, assault, and abuse under the law.
Abuse of power often occurs in the workplace. Supervisors serve as the gatekeepers to perks like raises, bonuses, and promotions and may therefore use their position to exploit those working under them. They may attempt to coerce employees into providing sexual favors in exchange for work-related incentives or threaten them with a negative performance evaluation, demotion, or termination.
Those who experience sexual harassment at work are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, and may be able to collect damages by filing a complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
Abuse of Power by Law Enforcement
Cases of police misconduct have increased over the last decade. Police officers and other law enforcement officials are in a unique position to take advantage of their title by engaging in wrongful actions, such as:
- Witness/evidence tampering
- Eliciting a false confession
- Racial profiling
- Sexual misconduct
- False arrest
- Misusing access to sensitive information about the public
State actors are generally entitled to qualified immunity; however, victims of government abuse of power may be able to recover damages by filing a civil right claim under Section 1983.
Amendment to California Extortion Statute Closes Loophole
Previously, California law defined extortion as the obtaining of property from another, with their consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer, induced by the wrongful use of force of fear, or under color of official right. On the heels of the #MeToo movement, the Governor signed SB500 into law, a bill that proposed including the obtaining of consideration in the law, which is defined as anything of value, including enumerated sexual acts or sexual images.
Monetary Compensation for Sexual Assault
Although victims of sexual harassment may hold perpetrators accountable under criminal law, they will only obtain monetary compensation through a civil lawsuit. However, there is no cause of action for sexual assault; therefore, the plaintiff must sue under another legal theory, such as civil assault or battery, or intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Damages in this type of case include compensation for injuries stemming from the abuse, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Plaintiffs should be aware, however, that their recovery is limited by the defendant’s personal assets; entities are more likely to have substantial funds, whereas individuals often do not have enough money to cover large payouts.
If the abuse of power occurred in a school, nursing home, or workplace, plaintiffs may be able to sue that entity in addition to the individual perpetrator under the legal theory of negligent supervision. What constitutes adequate supervision depends on the circumstances of each case. Abuse of power cases can be complex, especially when suing an entity, therefore it is advisable to contact an attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.
Los Angeles Abuse of Power Attorneys at Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP Help Victims of Sexual Abuse
If you were harmed by someone in a position of power, contact the Los Angeles abuse of power attorneys at Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP. Our compassionate and aggressive attorneys will fight to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. We represent clients throughout California from our offices in Los Angeles and San Diego. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 833-ACTS-LAWopens phone dialer.