Sexual Harassment and Assault in Universities is Massively Underreported

MWA investigates if a university-wide culture of victim shaming and silence is to blame

McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, (MWA) is investigating the potential of a culture of silence and victim shaming surrounding sexual harassment and assault instances in universities nationwide. As MWA litigates a sexual harassment claim on behalf of a university employee who was assaulted, denied accommodations for her trauma, and put on unpaid leave in the wake of her report, our team is looking into whether these cases are happening across the country. According to the AAUW, 77 percent of universities underreport sexual harassment and assault. If you are a university employee and have been a victim of sexual harassment or assault at work, contact MWA today!

Sexual Harassment in Universities Across the United States

McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, (MWA) is investigating the existence of a culture of silence and victim punishment and shaming regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault claims in university systems across the country. Our team of attorneys within the Racial & Economic Justice Practice Group is currently litigating a case matter involving an employee of California State University – San Bernardino who was allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted and was subsequently denied accommodations to allow her to feel more comfortable at work.

MWA believes this case may be indicative of a wider culture of victim shaming and silencing throughout university operations nationwide.

Sexual Harassment and Assault is a Widespread Problem

Conversations surrounding sexual violence on college campuses typically revolves around the safety of students. In fact, according to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), 13 percent of all students – both undergraduate and graduate, male and female — have experienced sexual assault on campus. But this is only half the issue of sexual harassment and assault at universities. University faculty and staff are also vulnerable to and victims of sexual harassment. Yet, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), 77 percent of universities do not report instances of sexual assault on their campuses.

If you were a victim of sexual harassment or assault at the hands of a university faculty member or staff member, contact us today by filling out the form to learn more about your legal options.

Victims of Sexual Harassment May Not Report

Despite the prevalence of on-campus sexual harassment and assault for both employees and students, there are always those who do not report their traumatic experiences. There are many reasons victims choose to remain silent. Some of these include:

  • Embarrassment
  • Fear of making enemies
  • Worry that they will be perceived as a “troublemaker”
  • Inability to support themselves without income if they are placed on unpaid leave
  • Fear of termination

MWA believes victims should never have to choose between receiving support and justice and getting a paycheck. However, the vast underreporting of sexual misconduct on university campuses raises concerns about the treatment of victims who do report and why victims may not.

If you are a university student, faculty member, or staff member who was sexually assaulted or harassed by another university member, you could have legal options. Contact us by completing the form today!

Attorney Handling this Case

Portrait of Joseph L. Richard, Partner of McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP
Joseph L. Richardson

Partner Joseph L. Richardson leads the firm’s Racial & Economic Justice practice. This practice group is designed to be a voice for the community; it is intentionally and uniquely positioned to bring actions against entities and institutions whose policies disproportionately harm people of color in the workplace and the consumer/small business marketplace. The group encompasses areas including employment, civil rights, and consumer and small business class actions.

In addition to litigation, Mr. Richardson also leads the department in advocacy – partnering with leaders (business, community, political, religious and others), and community institutions including schools and nonprofits to shed light on and combat racial and economic inequality. Mr. Richardson also leads the effort to identify meaningful pro bono opportunities for the attorneys of the firm, whose professional pro bono work will be directed in helping individuals and small businesses that are harmed by racist policies.

Mr. Richardson uses his bridgebuilding skills in his legal representation and jury trials, where he has been able to present in a way that allows very different people to find commonality with his clients. He has been involved in employment, class action, and other litigation involving treatment of disadvantaged individuals, and has secured successful verdicts and million-dollar settlements for clients. He has also advocated for churches and non-profit entities.

Mr. Richardson’s background informs his work. Born and raised in South-Central Los Angeles, he discovered an early passion for arguing legal and political issues. In 1989, Mr. Richardson attended University of Redlands, where he was student body president, hosted comedy shows and won Senior of the Year. He interned in Congress in Washington D.C. and wrote commentary on legal and political issues. At Northwestern Law School, Mr. Richardson was an SBA student government leader, hosted on campus cabarets, and travelled with the Kellogg School of Management to Ghana as part of their Global Initiatives in Management program.

All his life, Mr. Richardson has been a leader and bridgebuilder, brokering difficult conversations with diverse people – and holding them to account when necessary – for the benefit of the community. He has held elected leadership roles at every school he attended from elementary school on. In 2017, Mr. Richardson began a campaign for Redlands City Council which lasted more than a year, involved more than 100 meetings with stakeholders, knocking on over 3,000 doors, and garnered support from diverse individuals and groups, including public safety and labor. Placing second, he received nearly 2,000 votes, and made major progress toward becoming Redlands’ first African American city councilman.

In 2019, Mr. Richardson was appointed a member of the Redlands Planning Commission. Since 2015, he has been an adjunct law professor at LaVerne College of Law, teaching California Civil Procedure and Trial Advocacy. Mr. Richardson is a frequent public speaker on legal and ethical responsibility, leadership, civil rights, and today’s fronts in the search for justice. He is also a frequent media contributor, appearing on local and national television and writing on constitutional and justice issues. Personally, he has stayed involved in the community through the Family Services Association of Redlands, and the Garner Holt Foundation. He lives and practices in his college town of Redlands, California.

Visit Mr. Richardson’s YouTube Channel to view all of his joe speak! Podcasts.

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