One of the worst forms of power abuse is when the very people who are charged with ensuring your safety, are the ones who cause you the worst physical and emotional abuse. Unthinkable as it may seem, police officers sometimes stand accused of sexual harassment, misconduct and rape in California. Most police officers are professional and competent individuals who understand the boundaries of their positions of authority, and they respect the rights of civilians. However, thousands of cases of police misconduct and sexual harassment especially, have come to light in recent years.
Police misconduct is a violation of civilians' constitutional rights and can range from force confessions, fraud, dishonesty, brutality, abuse of authority, quid pro quo sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Sexual harassment of fellow police officers is also illegal. Sometimes, police officers are driven by their zeal to serve and protect, but this results in great injustices.
This type of abuse has many different facets, including:
- illegal search and seizure
- illegal detention
- excessive force
- racial and ethnic profiling
- illegal surveillance or spying
- racist or homophobic comments
- lewd, sexual comments or actions.
Although police officers have plenty latitude in performing their duties of protecting citizens and fighting crime, they are not above the law and unreachable to the swift hands of justice. It may be unpleasant to be stopped by a police officer, especially if you are innocent. However, provided they carry out their duties as prescribed and protect your civil rights in the process, they will not be liable for harassment. A fellow officer who witnessed police misconduct and failed to intervene may face additional charges.
Police officers are employed for the sole purpose to protect us, but in today's world, we often need to be protected from them. Police brutality, evidence tampering, and lies on the witness stand have become too common for comfort. Thankfully, the law is there to defend you when those who are charged with serving and protecting you, fail.
Whether you are a police officer experiencing sexual harassment from another law enforcement officer at work, or whether you are a member of the public who has been abused by a police officer, you have the right to seek justice. The law protects you from all kinds of police misconduct, including sexual harassment by an officer of the opposite sex, or of the same sexf the same sex. The law applies equally to men and women.
Contact a specialist Sexual Harassment Attorney about your rights.
Police Officer Sexual Harassment
Research has shown that sexual harassment - after excessive force - is the most common type of police misconduct in America. More than 75% of sexual assault and harassment settlements paid by the City of Los Angeles between 2011 and 2017 were connected in some way to the police department, totalling in excess of 6.15 million dollars. This has been ascribed to the scope and size of police departments, and the fact that sexual harassment complaints tend to arise from both the public and internally and between colleagues.
Law enforcement agencies have always grappled with an attitude of machismo and gender issues. Many are able to get away with the crime, yet it is prevalent enough for a police officer to be caught in the act every five days. Sexual harassment is prevalent in male-dominated or traditionally considered masculine workplaces, of which the police force is one. As such, approximately 60-70% of female officers have experienced gender discrimination or sexual harassment, but only 4-6% of them reported it. Many report that sexually oriented jokes and materials are a part of their daily job and the plight they must endure to maintain their careers in law enforcement.
Victims of sexual harassment and misconduct are constantly encouraged to come forward, because a large percentage of incidents are never reported to law enforcement. However, the media never talks about the fact that some police officers are also harassers, abusers, or predators. Naturally, someone who suffered sexual harassment or even assault by a law enforcement officer, reporting the sexual misconduct to the police is unthinkable.
What is Sexual Harassment by a Police Officer?
It's hard to imagine being sexually harassed or assaulted by a police officer, but they have powers of arrest, badges and guns to aid them in taking advantage of their charges. The tools of their trade enable them to exploit vulnerable members of the public, who might seem coerced to submit to the police officers' advances in hopes to avoid trouble and stay out of jail. Common examples include:
- subtle, coercive conversations in a parole officer's office;
- sexual assault during a late night traffic stop;
- rape by a corrections officer.
It is also illegal for a police officer in California and fifteen other states to have sex with an individual whom they detained or arrested, even it the contact is consensual.
Firstly, the law considers sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexually oriented conduct. Once off or petty teasing or sexual conduct does not usually constitute a case. It needs to be sufficiently pervasive or severe to create a hostile atmosphere in the working environment, or it must affect the victim's employment conditions.
Secondly, the sexually based conduct must be unwelcome for it to qualify as sexual harassment. While the law doesn't prohibit sexual conduct between two consenting adults, police department policies may. The law understands that an individual may welcome the conduct initially but change their minds later on. Ultimately, the recipient has the power to decide whether or not the conduct is welcome, and not the harasser.
Sexual harassment takes another common form, known as quid pro quo, which is defined as sexual favors in exchange for something. A common form of quid pro quo sexual harassment by police officers, is when officers demand sexual favors in exchange for looking the other way. Victims are coerced to engage in sexual acts to avoid arrest - wrongful arrest in many cases. In work situations, quid pro quo harassment by a senior official could involve sexual acts in exchange for favorable employment decisions, such as raises, or assistance in avoiding the consequences of internal investigations.
Hostile work environment harassment is also a form of sexual harassment faced by police officers. Based on pervasive or severe conduct, these cases involve conduct that makes the victim's work environment hostile. It could involve displaying or distributing sexually explicit images, making remarks or other forms of bullying based on the victim's gender or sexual orientation.
Effects of Police Officer Sexual Harassment
No matter the reasoning, police officers should abide by a certain code of conduct and when they fail, their governing agency becomes liable for the damages. Instead of trying to forget what happened to you, while police departments and fellow officers cloak these types of misconduct cases in secrecy, you need someone who can fearlessly defend you.
Although many law firms avoid pursuing personal injury cases related to sexual harassment by a police officer, an experienced Sexual Harassment Attorney believes that nobody is above the law in terms of hurting an innocent victim. According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, women who have spoken out and filed complaints against police departments have won over one third of sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuits.
Even in instances where cities prevail, the blemish such negativity leaves on a department, along with the legal costs, can be significant. Cities can be held liable for the interactions between:
- employees and inmates
- employees and individuals under their supervision or in their custody
- employees and members of the public
This can be enough to force them to reassess their training methods and implement steps to prevent sexual harassment by police officers in the long term. Along with gender discrimination, sexual harassment is the top reason why female officers leave their careers in law enforcement.
Sexual harassment lawyers advocate for public employees, including police officers, to receive fair treatment in the workplace, including equitable pay based on their position, and the right to a safe workplace that is free from harm, neglect, abuse or sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment by a police officer in California can leave you feeling violated, unprotected and vulnerable. You may require extensive - and expensive - therapy and psychological treatment to restore productivity and happiness to your life. This places a great financial and emotional burden on you and you should be compensated for it.
Sexual Harassment of a Police Officer by a Colleague
California law prohibits employment discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The law states that discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, sex (gender) or sexual orientation - to name a few - is unlawful. This law is applicable to any labor organization, employer, employment agency, apprenticeship program or person who incites, coerces, compels, aids or abets in the act of discrimination.
Victims of sexual harassment or workplace discrimination may be able to recover:
- lost wages (past, current, future)
- attorney's fees
- punitive damages
- emotional distress
A skilled sexual harassment lawyer with experience in police officer misconduct is experienced in advising victims on whether it would be best to file under California's FEHA or under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The law recognizes that the agencies that employ the officers should bear accountability along with the harassers who are guilty of the crimes. As such, victims that experience sexual harassment from police officers have the option to pursue justice against police officers for sexual assault using state tort law through the civil courts, using Section 1983.
This law makes it illegal for any person who acts under the color or authority of the state of California to deprive another person of his or her constitutional rights, immunities or privileges. Both the police officer and the local police department may be held liable for your injuries.
Police Officer Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Lawyers
As a society, we entrust the safety of our lives and our property to police officers. We expect them to enforce the laws and carry out their responsibilities under the authority of the state of California.
While sexual harassment by police officers is rather prevalent in California, many victims are still afraid to come forward. That means that this atrocity remains underreported. It would be a mistake to overlook the problem. More transparency on the part of the police is required for people to report any sexual misconduct by civilians, employers, elected officials, judges, politicians and police officers.
As a civilian or public servant, you are entitled to safety and protection against discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation in response to reporting an incident of sexual harassment to the police. Working with a law firm that serves as a passionate advocate for both civilians and police officers who have dedicated their lives to the safety of the country can give you a voice and protect your constitutional rights.
Whether your goal is to obtain an acceptance of guilt from the predator, compensation for your injuries, or to create a safer work environment, a sexual harassment lawyer who has extensive experience with labor and employment law issues can help obtain a favorable verdict and the best possible outcomes for your case.
Sexual Harassment Attorney has the resources and experience to protect your civil and employment rights. We make it our business to take decisive legal action on behalf of our clients who have become victims of sexual harassment by police officers, both civilly and in the workplace.
If is quite normal to feel angry, overwhelmed and vulnerable after experiencing sexual harassment from a police officer. We are taught from a young age to seek protection from the police whenever we are in trouble, and your experience may well have broken your trust in society. However, we are here to help you fight for justice. You deserve someone on your side who will fight fearlessly to protect your rights as a citizen of California, as we have done for many other people in similar situations.