Thursday, November 6, 2014

Holding California Businesses Liable for Sexual Assault by An Employee

Holding California businesses liable for the sexual assault or harassment by an employee of a co-worker or customer can be difficult.  Fortunately, California provides for specific civil remedies in the case of such conduct.  One such remedy can be found in the cause of action for damage specifically set forth in California Civil Code 51.9 and 52.  A claim for monetary recovery under this provision of California Law requires a showing of the following elements:


LEGAL BASIS FOR CLAIM FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A BUSINESS PATRON BY AN EMPLOYEE, AGENT OR MANAGER OF THE BUSINESS UNDER CALIFORNIA CIVIL CODE 51.9

That plaintiff [person claiming to be assaulted or harassed] had a business, service, or professional relationship with defendant [business employing the sexual perpetrator];
2. That defendant [through their agent/employee] made sexual advances, solicitations for sex, sexual requests or demands for sexual compliance to the plaintiff.
That defendant engaged in verbal/visual/ physica conduct of a sexual nature/hostile nature based on gender that was unwelcome and pervasive or severe;
3. That Plaintiff was unable to easily end the relationship with defendant; and
4. That plaintiff has suffered or will suffer economic loss or disadvantage, personal injury and/or the violation of a statutory or constitutional right as a result of defendant's conduct.
The broad nature of this statute makes is applicable in many situations.  The statute itself states that "business relationships" "include but, are not limited to" the following:
"(A) Physician, psychotherapist, or dentist. For purposes of this section, “psychotherapist” ...
(B) Attorney, holder of a master's degree in social work, real estate agent, real estate appraiser, accountant, banker, trust officer, financial planner loan officer, collection service, building contractor, or escrow loan officer.
(C) Executor, trustee, or administrator.
(D) Landlord or property manager.
(E) Teacher"

Therefore, if sexual acts are committed by any of these types of professionals or in the context of other business or professional relationships, a civil claim for personal injury may lie.  This could include: 

  • A doctor, nurse or other medical personnel commits a sexual assault in a hospital, clinic or other medical business;
  • A lawyer, social worker, real estate agent, banker or other professional trying to elicit payment for services through sexual favors
  • A landlord soliciting sex from a tenant
  • A teacher sexually abusing a student
Furthermore, under California Civil Code 52, the business itself along with any managers, supervisors or other personnel may be liable if they, "aid, incite or conspire" in the actions of the wrongdoer.

Importance of Consulting With A California Sexual Assault and Abuse Attorney If You or A Loved One Are the Victim of Sexually Inappropriate Conduct on the Part of a Business or Professional Services Provider


Finding liability in these situations requires first proving, by admissible evidence, that the conduct took place.  In addition, in order to hold the business or corporation itself responsible for the acts of its personnel, oftentimes requires showing that they knew or should have known about the wrongful behavior either before or after it occurred and either did nothing to prevent it or "impliedly" approved or "ratified" the wrongdoing.  These are all legal issues that should be addressed by a lawyer who is familiar with sex assault and abuse claims and has experience in prosecuting such actions on behalf of California victims of sexual assault and abuse.  For a free consultation on any such claim, call our toll free number statewide at 866-229-0101 or visit our webpage .