Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, when at work, most employees feel safe from violent behavior; however, violence in the workplace is not uncommon. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that in 2008, 12,633 rapes and sexual assaults occurred while U.S. employees were working or on duty. When sexual violence happens at the workplace, women are often traumatized again when learning that the remedy is workers compensation. This downgrades the crime to an `on-the-job occurrence' and prevents victims from suing employers when the crime occurred due to lack of safeguards and protections by employers.
Workers compensation systems were designed to create accident-free workplaces and allow employees hurt on the job to receive payment for medical expenses and lost wages. Using workers compensation as a way for employers to avoid lawsuits stemming from their own negligence is offensive to victims of this terrible crime. When sexual violence occurs on the job, employers should not be allowed to hide behind a system intended to compensate for job-related accidents. This is why I am reintroducing the Give Workplace Gender Violence Victims Their Day in Court Act, which will prevent employers from invoking workers compensation when employer negligence results in the sexual assault and rape of an employee. This bill will help empower victims of workplace sexual assault to have their day in court instead of being subject to the exclusive remedy of workers compensation.
Rape is not an accident and should never be regarded as an everyday, regular occurrence on the job. This legislation will enable victims and encourage employers to create a work environment free of sexual violence and send the message, loud and clear, that rape is not all in a day's work.