If you were sexually harassed at work, you may not have spoken up at the time. If the harassment included unwanted touching or other acts that are considered to be criminal sexual abuse, you may have been particularly reluctant. Sexual abuse survivors can take years, or even decades, to process what they have endured. Fear, embarrassment, revisiting trauma, or uncertainty about whether the conduct was indeed unlawful can discourage survivors from filing a complaint soon after the assault.
The new Adult Survivors Act (ASA) recognizes that trauma often extends beyond short time windows and empowers sexual assault survivors to hold perpetrators accountable, including employers whether or not the employers personally committed the misconduct.
Although the ASA’s provisions address a wide range of sexual offenses, the Act only covers criminal behaviors listed under New York Penal Law, including forcible touching, rape, sexual assault, and sexual misconduct, among other conduct.
Taking action this year
Previously, sexual assault victims only had a few years to pursue civil claims in court before their claim would be time-barred.
The implementation of the ASA temporarily removes the statute of limitations, allowing survivors who were over the age of 18 at the time of the offense to take legal action against perpetrators until Nov. 24, 2023, regardless of when the abuse took place.
Survivors are not limited to suing individual perpetrators. The ASA also empowers survivors to hold accountable any organization that insulated abusers from justice. Organizations include workplaces that are responsible for keeping employees safe and that contributed to or failed to prevent, notice, or stop the sexual offenses.
Sexual abuse can affect survivors for years or even decades. If you were the victim of sexual assault on the job, a lawyer can help assess whether your claim is covered under the ASA’s provisions and discuss your legal options to hold parties accountable in a civil court of law.