Holding Companies Liable for Sexual Assault: What to Know

Whether you’re an employee, customer, or visitor at a Missouri business, unfortunately, you may face the risk of sexual assault or harassment. In 2020, Missouri recorded the fourth highest rate of human trafficking in the U.S.

The following year saw 3,262 reports of sexual assault statewide, with 1 in 3 women and 1 in 7 men in the state having experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.

Sexual assault can cause profound emotional and physical trauma. While no action can undo this experience, pursuing a civil claim may provide some compensation for your suffering.

Our St. Louis sexual assault lawyers at Cofman Townsley can guide you through the process of filing with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR) or initiating a personal injury lawsuit to seek reparations for the damage inflicted.

Sexual Assault and Trafficking: An Unexpected Danger

No one expects to encounter sexual assault at a place of business, but it remains a distressing reality that occurs far too often. Sexual assault in business settings can take various forms, some of which include:

  • Unwanted physical contact or advances by managers, coworkers, or customers
  • Coercive behavior where individuals are manipulated or threatened into non-consensual acts
  • Exploitation of individuals in subordinate positions by those in authority
  • Cyber harassment involving unsolicited and offensive sexual communications through digital platforms related to work
  • Assault during business travel, where victims are targeted in unfamiliar locations away from their usual protections
  • Trafficking in massage parlors, where individuals are coerced into performing sexual acts under the guise of legitimate services
  • Recruitment through false job advertisements that lure individuals into situations where they are sexually exploited
  • Forced labor in businesses where victims are forced to work under abusive conditions, including sexual exploitation.

Can You Hold a Business Liable for Sexual Assault?

If you are subjected to sexual mistreatment at a business, you have the right to hold the perpetrators accountable. The Missouri Human Rights Act makes sexual harassment illegal in the workplace, and sexual assault and trafficking are criminal offenses in the state. Under these laws, you have the following legal protections in a place of business:

  • Employee Rights: Employees are entitled to a workplace free from sexual harassment and assault. Employers must enforce strict anti-harassment policies and take immediate action on reported incidents. Failure to do so can result in a business being liable for damages suffered by the employee.
  • Visitor Rights: Businesses owe a duty of care to customers and visitors as well. This includes maintaining secure premises and addressing potential risks promptly. If negligent security or the company’s failure to act on known dangers results in a visitor’s sexual assault, the business can be held responsible.

Where to Report Sexual Assault or Trafficking

Reporting sexual harassment, assault, or trafficking is the first step toward holding the company liable for the physical, mental, and financial damage caused by their actions. The following are reporting options for victims in Missouri:

Reporting OptionWho Should ReportReporting ProcessPotential Consequences
HR DepartmentEmployees who have experienced sexual misconduct at work.Report the incident to HR; ideally, this leads to an internal investigation and quick action to address the issue.May lead to internal remedies or referral to law enforcement.
Police or Social ServicesAll sexual assault or trafficking victims.Call the social services hotline or local police—possible criminal charges may be filed against those responsible.Possible criminal charges, legal restitution, victim compensation funds.
MCHREmployees facing workplace harassment or assault.File a complaint with the MCHR, leading to a possible investigation, mediation, or litigation with a Right to Sue letter. Civil damages, reinstatement, back pay, changes in workplace policies.
Sexual Assault AttorneyAnyone seeking civil justice for sexual mistreatment.File a civil lawsuit seeking damages for the impact of the assault on your life.Monetary damages, punitive damages, payment for emotional distress.  


How an Attorney Can Help

Obtaining legal counsel after a sexual assault can help you protect your rights and start the healing process. At Cofman Townsley, our sexual assault lawyers can help you seek the civil restitution you deserve by doing the following:

  • Case Evaluation: We can thoroughly review your case to determine where to file your claim, whether it’s a civil court for damages or the MCHR for discrimination claims within a 180-day timeframe.
  • Evidence Gathering: Our team collects strong evidence to support your case. This may include surveillance footage, witness testimonies, medical records documenting your injuries, and communication records related to the incident.
  • Negotiating Compensation: We negotiate with all parties involved, including the perpetrator’s representatives and insurance company, to help you receive full compensation for your physical, emotional, and financial losses.
  • Guidance and Support: Our attorneys provide ongoing guidance and support throughout the process. We help you understand every legal option and procedure, prepare you for potential court appearances, and support you in making decisions about your case.


Take Legal Action With Cofman Townsley

When businesses fail to keep you safe or inflict sexual mistreatment, you can hold them liable for civil damages. Cofman Townsley has been helping Missouri sexual assault victims for nearly 50 years, and we’re available 24/7 to take on your case.

Contact us today for a confidential, free consultation. Share your story with one of our compassionate lawyers, and let’s discuss your legal options.