Category: Sexual Harassment

Hopeless man feet tied together with rope

Advocates Turn to Civil Justice System to Fight Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is an illegal, exploitative practice which reveals the dark side of humanity.

While it may be an indelicate topic, it is nonetheless a significant problem worldwide. Ark of Hope for Children reports that an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children are bought and sold across international borders every year. The figures rise to an estimated 2 to 4 million when trafficking within country borders is accounted for. These victims are exploited for forced labor or sexual acts for the commercial gain of their captors. In order to address the problem of human trafficking, it is important to understand it. It is also important for victims to empower themselves to use both the civil and criminal justice systems. These legal processes can help victims hold their captors accountable for the unspeakable acts they have perpetrated, as well as offer a wide range of assistance to help victims rebuild their lives. 

How to Stop Human Trafficking   

Like most complicated social issues, there is no single right answer to the question of stopping human trafficking. Current efforts by advocates and law enforcement authorities target the problem from many different angles. Some law enforcement agencies are cracking down on those who purchase commercial sex acts or slave labor from human traffickers. These efforts attack the market for human trafficking, thereby reducing the incentive for traffickers to set up their elaborate operations. Meanwhile, advocates and victim support groups are helping to empower victims by training those in the best position to help them.

This resulted in the incredible rescue of one teen victim on a flight bound for San Francisco. 

The New York Daily News reports that a flight attendant noticed the girl’s frightened demeanor when she boarded. The flight attendant, who had received human trafficking training to coincide with the recent Super Bowl, noticed other warning signs, as well. This prompted her to leave a note for the girl in the bathroom. The girl wrote back that she “needed help”. Thanks to the flight attendant’s training and quick action, police were waiting to arrest the man accompanying the teen girl when the flight landed in San Francisco. This story illustrates how effective training can be when it is used to those who work in areas that are common sites of human trafficking (such as airports, train stations, etc.)    

How Victims Can Empower Themselves

There are many legal resources available to the victims of human trafficking. The law affords special protections to all crime victims. These include the right to be protected from the defendant, to be notified of court hearings, to provide the court with a written victim impact statement, and to consult with the prosecutor about plea bargaining and sentencing decisions. The victim also has the right to seek a criminal restitution order from the defendant to compensate the losses he or she has incurred as a result of the crime the defendant committed. 

In addition to the criminal justice system, the civil justice system is also a powerful tool available to crime victims. Victims can, in certain circumstances, sue traffickers, purchasers, false corporations which hid the trafficking, and other such legal entities for their complicity in a human trafficking operation. The significant financial costs of such a lawsuit can be a strong deterrent to these criminal organizations. A trafficking victim can thus protect other innocent victims from the same human trafficking operations. 

Aggressive Defense of Your Personal Injury Claim

There are many ways in which to fight human trafficking and support victims of this inhumane practice. It is important to have the guidance of an experienced attorney who can help victims explore all legal options for getting help and moving forward with their lives. Schedule your free consultation with the Fite Law Group by calling (602) 368-1869, or by email at info@fitelaw.com. 

A young female victim of sexual harassment as she leaves the copy room at her workplace with an obvious look of unhappiness on her face, #metoo, me too, time's up, workplace sexual harassment, forced arbitration agreement, what should I do when my workplace forces an arbitration agreement

Forced Arbitration Silences Victims of Sexual Harassment

Forced Arbitration Silences Victims of Sexual Harassment

In recent months, the #metoo movement has brought media attention to a staggering amount of sexual harassment and abuse of power across many of America’s largest industries. Politicas, entertainment, technology and many other sectors have been plagued by allegations of inappropriate behavior in the workplace and coercive sexual advances. These media reports have raised a devastating question: how could so much abuse go unreported for so long?

This is, of course, a complicated question with many possible answers. One of the recurring themes of these reports is the agreements which were used to keep women silent about the abuse they had suffered. In some cases, they were as devious as a blatant agreement to keep silent in exchange for “hush money”. In other cases, they were completely enforceable legal contracts which used the legal process to bully victims into silence. This has often been achieved by the use of an arbitration agreement.

What is an Arbitration Agreement?

An arbitration agreement occurs when two parties agree to submit their disputes to arbitration before they file a lawsuit. Many consumers enter such agreements when obtaining a credit card or cell phone service.  In the employment context, many employers require their workers to sign such agreements as a condition of employment. Such agreements will generally require the employee to submit any employment-related legal claims (including sexual harassment) to arbitration before a lawsuit can be filed. In many cases, arbitration must remain confidential, and the employee is not permitted to disclose information about the process.

Unfortunately, many employers have been able to use arbitration clauses to prevent employees from revealing abuse to the press, or otherwise making harassment public in an effort to stop it. An arbitration agreement cannot stop a victim from reporting a crime to law enforcement officials. It can, however, prevent exactly the type of media coverage which has made the #metoo movement so effective.

Hope for the Future

Despite the horrific stories being covered in the media, the recent reports of widespread sexual harassment have also brought the promise of change to the American workplace. The New York Times reports that Microsoft has eliminated forced arbitration of its employees’ sexual harassment claims. The technology giant is also supporting proposed federal legislation that would ban such agreements in employment relationships. This legislation is yet another hopeful sign of things to come, as it has bipartisan support in the Senate.

Change will not, of course, come quickly. But by enacting small changes, and holding each employer responsible for inappropriate conduct in the workplace, the American workforce can slowly become a safer place for everyone.

Aggressive Pursuit of Your Sexual Harassment Claim

The Fite Law Group believes in protecting victims of all sorts of personal injuries. Sexual harassment can be among the most demeaning and emotionally damaging type of injury a person can sustain. If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you need an aggressive attorney with the experience to effectively pursue all legal options. Call (602) 368-1869, or send an email to info@fitelaw.com, to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney.

Looking for more?  Consider reading Changes to the Rules of Lawsuits