Can I sue a patient for sexual harassment? 23 Answers as of August 05, 2011

I am a female certified nursing aid providing in-home care of a male M.S. patient who is mentally competent and confined to a wheelchair. He has been verbally, sexually harassing me for over a year. The agency that I work for has already told him, once, that his behavior is unacceptable and must stop. He stopped for a couple of months, then continued and is getting worse. His wife just makes excuses for him. I have not reported several instances of the harassment, out of sympathy for his wife and the hope that if I ignored his behavior, it would stop. Like I said, it just got worse and more frequent. I couldn't take it anymore and have been sinking into depression and stress because of the harassment. I recently reported these instances to my supervisor, who is taking it very seriously and will explain again to him and his wife, that this must stop. If he continues to sexually harass me, do I have the right to sue him? Some of the instances of sexual harassment from my patient toward me are; one time he patted my bottom, he has also made several embarrassing comments about my breasts, twice he asked me to watch pornography with him, and so on. I'm not sure if I can sue a patient who is confined to a wheelchair or if the court would just feel sorry for him?

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David F. Stoddard
David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
You can sue for assault (the unwanted touching) and possibly Intentional infliction of emotional distress. It is difficult to say whether such a suit would be successful. It is certainly not a case that you are certain to win. Another issue is whether he has any assets from which you could collect a judgment. If he does not, there is no point in suing.
Answer Applies to: South Carolina
Replied: 8/5/2011
Dearbonn Law Offices
Dearbonn Law Offices | Ajibola Oluyemisi Oladapo
yes you can Please note that this is not legal advise and should not be construed as such. .
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/4/2011
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
That is a step beyond sexual harassment; it is assault. Yes, you can sue him.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 8/4/2011
Klisz Law Office, PLLC
Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
You can't sue him because he is not your employer. However, patting your bottom is CSC 4th degree and a serious felony. You can threaten or go to the police. Can your employer move you away? Sounds horrible to me.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/3/2011
Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
Can you? Yes. The Unruh Civil Rights Act allows for this. You may also have a sexual battery claim for him grabbing your buttocks. Here's the sexual battery statute: Civil Code 1708.5. (a) A person commits a sexual battery who does any of the following: (1) Acts with the intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact with an intimate part of another, and a sexually offensive contact with that person directly or indirectly results. (2) Acts with the intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact with another by use of his or her intimate part, and a sexually offensive contact with that person directly or indirectly results. (3) Acts to cause an imminent apprehension of the conduct described in paragraph (1) or (2), and a sexually offensive contact with that person directly or indirectly results. (b) A person who commits a sexual battery upon another is liable to that person for damages, including, but not limited to, general damages, special damages, and punitive damages. (c) The court in an action pursuant to this section may award equitable relief, including, but not limited to, an injunction,costs, and any other relief the court deems proper. (d) For the purposes of this section "intimate part" means the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, or the breast of a female. (e) The rights and remedies provided in this section are in addition to any other rights and remedies provided by law. (f) For purposes of this section "offensive contact" means contact that offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity. Heres the sexual harassment statute for business related (other than workplace harassment by a boss or co-worker): Civil Code 51.9. (a) A person is liable in a cause of action for sexual harassment under this section when the plaintiff proves all of the following elements: (1) There is a business, service, or professional relationship between the plaintiff and defendant. Such a relationship may exist between a plaintiff and a person, including, but not limited to, any of the following persons: (A) Physician, psychotherapist, or dentist. For purposes of this section, "psychotherapist" has the same meaning as set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 728 of the Business and Professions Code. (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. (F) A relationship that is substantially similar to any of the above. (2) The defendant has made sexual advances, solicitations, sexual requests, demands for sexual compliance by the plaintiff, or engaged in other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature or of a hostile nature based on gender, that were unwelcome and pervasive or severe. (3) There is an inability by the plaintiff to easily terminate the relationship. (4) The plaintiff has suffered or will suffer economic loss or disadvantage or personal injury, including, but not limited to,emotional distress or the violation of a statutory or constitutional right, as a result of the conduct described in paragraph (2). (b) In an action pursuant to this section, damages shall be awarded as provided by subdivision (b) of Section 52. (c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit application of any other remedies or rights provided under the law. (d) The definition of sexual harassment and the standards for determining liability set forth in this section shall be limited to determining liability only with regard to a cause of action brought under this section.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/3/2011
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    Certainly you may sue the old codger but folks may feel sorry for him. That could be a problem. Seems like to me your boss is also liable by insisting that you continue your care of this deviate. He may have some liability.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    You could consult with a plaintiff's employment or labor law attorney regarding the alleged sexual harassment. Can your supervisor send a male aide in your stead and give you another assignment which is less stressful?
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    You may have an action against your employer for failing to protect you.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates | Lyle B. Masnikoff
    You should definately contact an attorney. If your company does not do anything about it you could have a case against the company as well.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    You may have a case against your employer if they were alerted of the behavior and did not stop serving the client. You should seek consultation with a lawyer if your employer makes you provide care to this client. I am sorry you are going through this.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Kirshner & Groff
    Kirshner & Groff | Richard M. Kirshner
    Probably but why don't you get another assignment.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Of course you can sue him. But exhaust all other remedies first. For example, why hasn't your employer re-assigned you? I would be more interested in possibly pursuing a claim against you employer. No M.S. sympathy there!
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Law Offices of Tom Patton
    Law Offices of Tom Patton | Thomas C. Patton
    The short answer is yes, you can sue the patient, but how would a claim be paid? Does he have assets to cover your loss? If your employer was not taking your complaints seriously, that would also be an avenue for redress of the harassment. And unlike the patient, the employer would have insurance to cover the loss.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    Your better claim would be against your employer for failing to reassign you.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C.
    The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C. | Josh Lamborn
    From the fact of your case it sounds like you may be better suited for an employment attorney or someone who specializes in sexual harassment. However, you could bring a tort claim against this person for intentional infliction of emotional distress, sexual assault and battery and sexual harassment. Certainly if you brought such a lawsuit one of the concerns would be that a jury would be sympathetic to this disabled defendant. However, there are other more important initial considerations with this avenue of relief. First, if you brought a lawsuit against this person how would it affect your employment? Second, does this person have any money that could be used to satisfy a civil judgment? Third, is there a cause of action against your employer for failing to adequately address this situation? Finally, what do you really want out of this case? Your employer would likely frown on a lawsuit against one of their clients and they may punish you for filing it. Has your employer done everything he or she can to protect you from this person? Why can't you be sent to another less difficult patient? Lawsuits are filed with the purpose of getting money. If the defendant really doesn't have any assets or insurance then bringing a lawsuit is not worth your time and expense. Talk to an employment lawyer about these issues and see if there is something that can be done to remedy this situation.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    A. Daniel Woska & Associates, P.C.
    A. Daniel Woska & Associates, P.C. | Dan Woska
    Whether you can sue the man for sexual harassment is determined by the law you use whether a state act or federal act. The question you may want to consider is your employer. If you are reporting the harassment weekly, daily, regularly and the best the employer can do is tell the MS patient he needs to stop, the employer is the one sending you into the sexual harassment knowing full well it has not stopped, it is affecting you psychologically and physiologically, there is certainly a picture which shows the employer placing you in that environment knowing what transpires and simply sacrificing you personally so they make a profit off you for the ongoing future. Contact an attorney who specializes in sexual harassment and see what their analysis of the situation provides. Suing a man in a wheel chair in Oklahoma may be way too much for a jury and they may rule for the defense and then the court may be statutorily required to assess attorney fees and costs against you. As long as Oklahoma thinks businesses are more important than people and the Oklahoma Republican legislature continues restricting the rights of those suffering from the bad acts by these corporations and businesses through what is called Tort Reform, , .juries will remain dispassionate and uninterested in plaintiff claims without exceedingly serious injuries and exceedingly large costs medically for the party harmed. "Direct threats require decisive action."
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We recommend that you consult with an attorney in your area concerning your rights and options, but admittedly, it sounds like a tough case in our opinion. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    Demand that your employer reassign you to another patient. Document your demand in writing or by email.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Oliver Law Office
    Oliver Law Office | Jami Oliver
    Actually, it is your employer's responsibility to be sure that any sexual harassment and/or assaults are taken care of and do not occur again. They must take appropriate measures to protect you. The law in Ohio protects you while in the scope of your employment for sexual harassment. This is something that must be handled by your employer for you, including dismissing him from the facility if that is a reasonable remedy.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC | Paul S. Bovarnick
    You could probably sue him for assault or intentional infliction of emotional distress. However he is unlikely to have insurance for this, which means that collecting a judgment would be difficult or impossible. So yes, you can sue him, but no, it is probably not worth doing. It does sound like you have a workers compensation claim, and if your employer does not remove you from caring for him, you may have a sexual harassment claim against your employer.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/3/2011
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