Far too many Chicagoans wonder whether their boss might be responsible for a third party sexual assault. Sometimes, an innocent workplace flirtation gets out of control. Other times, a complete stranger attacks a victim in a parking garage or parking lot. As outlined below, foreseeability, or the lack thereof, is usually the key concept in these cases.
Incidents like these cause deep physical and emotional wounds. Many victims spend considerable time in hospitals, followed by considerably more time in medication-assisted therapy. Even after all that, most victims never fully recover.
Because of these serious injuries, a Chicago sexual assault lawyer might be able to obtain substantial compensation in court. This compensation certainly does not alter the past, but it does the next best thing. A money judgment helps victims move forward and also forces employers to accept responsibility for their role in the tragedy.
Sexual Assault Injuries
As mentioned, workplace sexual assaults cause physical and emotional injuries. Compensation is available for both.
Physical injuries often include damage to reproductive organs. Other injuries, such as broken bones, are common as well.
The emotional injuries are usually much deeper. Exposure to extreme trauma such as this typically alters brain chemistry. The cerebral cortex, which controls logical responses, shrinks. When that happens, the amygdala, which controls emotional responses, expands. This chemical imbalance explains symptoms like:
- Heightened awareness,
- Anger outbursts,
- Nightmares, and
- Severe depression.
A combination of therapy and medication often lessens these symptoms, so victims can function better. But the underlying injury is permanent, so these symptoms never completely disappear.
Preliminary Liability Questions
Depending on the facts of the case, either the employer or a landlord could be legally responsible for damages in these cases. Employees are lawful entrants. Owners typically have a duty of care to protect such people from assaults, falls, and other such injuries.
Employers have a duty to screen employees for criminal records. If applicants have relevant criminal histories, perhaps a history of violent crime, employers have a responsibility to either not hire them or watch them closely.
Landlord duties usually involve physical conditions. The property must be reasonably safe for all employees. In the sexual assault context, some common hazards include:
- Burned-out or missing security lights,
- Broken or missing security fences,
- Lack of cameras or other deterrents, and
- Inadequate live security.
The type of business is relevant here. Convenience store workers, especially those working the night shift, face more risk of sexual assault and other such injuries than other retail workers.
This element is always part of a damages claim. This element also varies, depending on the nature of the defendant.
As for employers and sexual assaults, foreseeability often revolves around the alleged assailant’s criminal background. Prior on-the-job incidents that indicate a grudge against a co-worker or an inability to control anger might be relevant, as well.
Landlord-related injuries are typically foreseeable if a prior, similar incident occurred at that worksite or in the general area. As mentioned, the nature of the business is relevant, as well.
Contact a Compassionate Lawyer
Employers and/or landlords could be responsible for a third-party sexual assault. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago employment lawyer, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.