• Suing Your Employer or High-Level Supervisor for Sexual Harassment

    Sexual Harassment occurs when an employer or supervisor makes continued unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or unwanted physical contact that is offensive or lewd. At The Law Offices of Kevin R. Madison, P.C. we vigorously pursue cases against employers and high-level supervisors who sexually harass employees. Mr. Madison has pursued business owners, doctors, psychiatrists, lawyers for sexually harassing their employees.

    Kevin R. Madison pursues sexual harassment cases against employers, business owners, and high-level supervisors using state laws that prohibit unwelcome touching (“assault by contact”) and outrageous conduct that causes serious emotional distress (“intentional infliction of emotional distress”), rather than using federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws that prohibit sexual harassment.

    In cases that involve groping, touching, or outrageous intentional lewd conduct, Mr. Madison pursues the predators using Texas statutes and causes of action recognized by Texas appellate courts (case law). Civil charges of Assault by Contact and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress are utilized to pursue those who sexually harass their employees.

    Some examples of illegal conduct by an employer or a high-level supervisor include:

    • Repeated unwelcome comments of a sexual or lewd nature to an employee
    • Sending lewd or pornographic emails, text messages, or voicemail to an employee
    • Unwelcome groping or touching of an employee
    • Unwelcome kissing of an employee
    • Sexual assault of an employee
    • Requesting sexual relations from an employee
    • Describing sexual fantasies about an employee to that employee
  • CIVIL TORT CLAIMS FOR PHYSICAL ASSAULT, SEXUAL ASSAULT & INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

    There is a movement across the United States to seek redress for assaults and sexual assaults in civil courts. Although we are all too familiar with the criminal justice system as a system of redress for victims of sexual assaults, many victims remain unaware that they may have a viable cause of action for monetary (money) damages against sexual predators in the civil justice court system. These civil actions are becoming more common in courts throughout the U.S.   I was the first attorney in Travis County to file a civil lawsuit against a rapist and obtained a judgment of 1.5 million dollars around 1987. My experience and training as a police officer, police chief, and prosecutor helped shaped my destiny as an advocate for victim rights in the civil justice system.

    Why file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator of a sexual assault or the owner of the premises where a sexual assault took place? There are several answers to this question. I think, foremost, that by initiating civil litigation against a perpetrator, a crime victim can help regain her or his feelings or balance and control over their environment. Sexual and physical assaults can cause emotional scars that leave a victim feeling as if they have lost control of their lives. If a crime victim can get out of the “role” of “victim” they may be able to regain a feeling of independence and control over their own life again. This redemption or catharsis may be the most important of all reasons for pursuing civil litigation against a perpetrator.

    Other reasons for pursuing civil litigation against predators include, but are not limited to:

    (1) Exposing individuals who commit these crimes to the public through media coverage and press releases;

    (2) Seeking money damages to assist the victim in obtaining medical and psychological counseling;

    (3) Obtaining information about the predator or dangerous premises that may help law enforcement or criminal prosecutors prevent future attacks.

    Before one considers going down the path of civil litigation, a conference with an attorney who is well-versed in crime victim law and inadequate security litigation should occur. Beware of attorneys who advertise in the yellow pages or television who claim to be “experts” in personal injury and intentional injury (tort) law. Most attorneys who advertise on TV or in telephone directories have little or no network of former clients for referrals and practice a high-volume “mill” law practice.

    Crime victim cases and inadequate security cases are much different than automobile collision personal injury cases. Most lawyers are wholly unequipped to properly investigate these cases and do not understand how to prosecute these civil cases. They do not understand the nature of these cases, the elements of proving these cases, or how to utilize litigation “tactics” to win these cases. There are only a handful of lawyers in the United States who understand these cases. My background as a security supervisor of a 28 story co-ed college dormitory shopping mall complex (Dobie Center in Austin), 4 years street experience as a police officer, experience as a prosecutor, coupled with 25 years litigation experience and 18 years judicial experience give me a unique advantage over other attorneys in this area of law. I am also a licensed EMT-I and have served as a Firefighter/EMS First Responder for 5 years with Austin EMS. I understand the emotional and physical trauma that criminal predators inflict on their victims.

    What kind of cases might a crime victim be able to pursue?

    • DATE RAPE
    • SEXUAL ASSAULT BY KNOWN PERPETRATOR
    • SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND SEXUAL ABUSE BY DOCTOR, THERAPIST, OR CLERGY
    • SEXUAL ASSAULT BY UNKNOWN PERPETRATOR ON PRIVATE PROPERTY (PARKING GARAGE, SHOPPING MALL, NIGHTCLUB, APARTMENT COMPLEX)
    • INCEST
    • SEXUAL HARASSMENT WHICH INCLUDES UNWANTED TOUCHING

    An experienced attorney should be able to discuss statutes of limitations which bar civil lawsuits from being pursued if a plaintiff delays too long after the cause of action accrues. For example, a victim of a simple assault by touching has two years to bring her lawsuit against the perpetrator. More serious assaults even ones that cause death are limited to the two-year limitation period (See Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, Sec. 16.003). The same limitation applies to a civil cause of action for “Intention Infliction of Emotional Distress” against a perpetrator. I use Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress claims when I am dealing with non-violent assaults like the office supervisor who is groping on his subordinate female employees and making lewd statements to them. I sued an Austin doctor using simple assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress for a young UT student who was being groped and harassed by this doctor, who employed her. The jury came back with a verdict of $15,000 actual mental anguish damages and a punitive damages award of $30,000 against the doctor.

    For Sexual Assaults and Aggravated Sexual Assaults the limitation period is extended to five (5) years (See Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, Sec. 16.0045). These include sexual assaults of children and elderly, and sexual assaults where a deadly weapon is utilized or threatened. It is important to note that in all cases involving children that the limitation periods do not begin running until the child turns 18 years of age and becomes a legal adult.

    There are specific statutes that address Sexual Exploitation of a Patient by a Health Care Provider. Chapter 81 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code (TCPRC) addresses these crimes and provides some special damages, such as recovery of all attorneys’ fees for these victims, but it is important to note that the limitation period for these offenses is only three (3) years!  These cases include sexual assault and consensual sexual relations between therapist/doctor and patient and may include exploitation of former patients. TCPRC,   Chapter 81 defines Mental Health Service “Providers” as including: Licensed Social Workers, Chemical Dependency Counselors, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Clergy, Physicians, and Psychologists. These Providers are Liable to Patients and Former patients for damages for sexual exploitation if the patient or former patient suffers a physical, mental, or emotional injury caused by, resulting from, or arising out of:(a) Sexual Contact Between patient and Provider; (b) Sexual Exploitation of patient by Provider; or (c) Therapeutic Deception of patient by Provider. TCPRC, Section 81.005(a) states that: It is NOT a defense that the sexual exploitation of the patient or former patient occurred: (1) with the consent of the patient; (2) outside the therapy or treatment sessions; or (3)  off the premises regularly used by the mental health services provider for therapy or treatment.

    A civil judgment against a sexual or physical predator who intentionally (willfully and maliciously) assaults another cannot be discharged by a bankruptcy court. Title 11 of United States Code, Section 523(a)(6) states that a discharge normally allowed under the federal bankruptcy code (for civil judgments) does not discharge an individual debtor from any debt for a willful and malicious injury caused by the debtor.

    Unfortunately, the most important factor for an attorney when deciding whether to accept a crime victim case may hinge on whether the perpetrator has any significant assets. Without assets to seize, there is little point to justify the expense and time to pursue civil litigation against the perpetrator. When meeting with potential clients I discuss this matter fully with the client. Every case is different. There is never a charge to discuss a case at my law firm. All cases that are accepted are solely on a percentage fee of the total amount we are able to recover for our clients plus expenses. However, if we are unable to obtain a positive benefit for our clients, the client does not owe us a penny, not even our costs.  We have a female Registered Nurse for our women clients who are more comfortable discussing their case with another woman.

    Yours very truly,

    Attorney Kevin R. Madison

  • This is a huge victory for women who are assaulted or sexually assaulted by an employer! Under the previous law (Waffle House case) women who were victims of sexual assaults or physical assaults at work were forced to pursue their claims through EEOC administrative channels and had to get permission from the Texas Workforce Commission or EEOC to sue their employers (“Right To Sue” letter). Not anymore. This is an amazing victory for men and women in the workplace who are victims of sexual assaults by their supervisors.
    The background to his win in B.C. v. Steak N Shake is as follows, according to the high court’s decision:
    B.C., formerly an associate at the Frisco, Texas, Steak ‘n Shake restaurant, alleged she was sexually assaulted by her supervisor on company property in 2011.
    B.C. alleged her supervisor pushed her against a sink, grabbed her by the back of the head and pulled her toward him and tried to kiss her. She repeatedly told him to “no” and tried to push him away but was unable to escape. During a struggle, the supervisor unbuckled his pants, exposing his genitals to B.C. and later lost his balance allowing her to escape.
    Later that same day, B.C. and her mother reported the incident to Steak’n Shake and the police. After completing an internal investigation, Steak ‘n Shake was unable to confirm B.C.’s allegations and as a result, B.C.’s supervisor was not terminated, nor was he transferred to another location. The company offered for B.C. to return to work at any other Steak N Shake location, but she terminated her employment instead.
    B.C. later sued Steak’n Shake and her supervisor asserting assault, sexual assault, battery and negligence among other claims. Steak’n Shake moved to dismiss B.C.’s claims by arguing that the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA), which governs sexual harassment claims controlled B.C.’s common law assault claims. Under that law’s statutory framework, a plaintiff must first receive permission from the state before filing an employment discrimination lawsuit.
    The TEXAS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS was established by the state legislature when the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act passed on June 26, 1983, authorizing the agency to enforce the law and handle complaints filed under the commission or under United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) when an employee alleges sexual discrimination by an employer.
    The trial court granted Steak ‘n Shake’s motion to dismiss, but did not explain its ruling. B.C. nonsuited her claims against the supervisor and only appealed the trial court’s ruling on her assault claim against Steak ‘n Shake.
    Dallas’ Fifth Court of Appeals later upheld the trial court’s ruling on the grounds that the TCHRA preempted B.C.’s assault claim. The Fifth Court held that under a 2010 Texas Supreme Court decision in Waffle House v. Williams that the TCHRA is the exclusive remedy for “workplace sexual harassment” and that to let her pursue the assault claim would circumvent the anti-harassment regime created by the state law.
    B.C. appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court arguing that the Fifth Court misapplied the Waffle House ruling to her case. But Steak N Shake argued that high court should apply their holding from Waffle House to B.C.’s assault claim because it could give rise to sexual harassment claim which is subject to the TCHRA’s authority.
    In a unanimous Feb. 24 decision, the Supreme Court held that B.C.’s claims were not preempted by the TCHRA and to rule otherwise would “muddle and obscure” the purpose of TCHRA which is designed to protect Texans who suffer from workplace harassment.
    There were significant differences between the Waffle House case, which involved repeated sexual harassment claims, and B.C.’s case which involved “a single violent assault,” wrote Justice Paul Green in a decision that reverses and remands the case back to the Fifth Court for rulings on other issues.
    “Moreover, were we to apply Waffle House here, we would effectively rule that any action by an employer, no matter how egregious or severe, is subject to the TCHRA’s administrative scheme so long as the conduct can be characterized as sexual harassment,” Green wrote. “Neither the TCHRA’s text nor its purpose, nor our prior holdings interpreting the statute, requires such an extreme result.”

  • The dating app start-up Tinder has resolved a sexual harassment lawsuit lodged by one of its early employees without admitting wrongdoing, and one of the executives targeted by the lawsuit has left the company.  Whitney Wolfe, who describes herself as Tinder co-founder, had alleged in a lawsuit filed in June that two male superiors at the West Hollywood start-up pressured her to resign and directed threatening and disparaging comments at her. Among others, the suit targeted Sean Rad, the chief executive, and Justin Mateen, the chief marketing officer. Wolfe sought damages, including lost wages and stock options.

    Mateen resigned from Tinder in the wake of the lawsuit, a source unauthorized to speak publicly about the situation said Monday. Tinder declined to comment, and a call to a number listed for Mateen wasn’t answered. Mateen and Wolfe had been in a relationship for some time. Wolfe said in a court filing that it devolved into Mateen making “sexist, racist, and otherwise inappropriate comments, emails and text messages.”

    The company, which is majority-owned by Barry Diller’s IAC Corp., never responded to the allegations in court. Instead, Tinder extended its deadline to reply throughout the summer as negotiations took place. Wolfe’s attorneys filed Friday to have the Los Angeles County Superior Court case dropped. “Whitney is proud to be a co-founder of Tinder and of the role that she played in the app’s success,” the firm Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe said in a statement. “She is now pleased to be able to focus her energy, talents, and ideas on exciting new opportunities.”  Attorney David Lowe declined to comment on Wolfe’s case, but said that in general, “Jury trial is not the only way to get justice in court cases.” “This wasn’t the first case and this won’t be the last case with allegations of women being treated badly at technology companies,” he added.

    Tinder’s free, ad-less app ranks among the nation’s 100 most-downloaded apps, according to data from AppAnnie. It lets two people who are nearby message each other if they secretly “heart” one another. Tinder produced 10 million such matches a day in June, though recent reports indicate it’s now up to 12 million.

  • Medical Boards Discipline Physicians for Online Behavior

    Medical licensing boards are beginning to see complaints about unprofessional online behavior by physicians, and many of these complaints resulted in serious disciplinary actions, including license revocation, according to a research letter published in the March 21 issue of JAMA. Dr. Ryan Greysen, MD, Division of Hospital Medicine at The University of California, San Francisco, and his colleagues report that 48 of the 68 executive directors of medical licensing boards responded to the study survey. Of those 48 Medical Ethics Boards who responded, 44 (98%) indicated receiving at least 1 complaint about an online professional breach. The most common complaints reported inappropriate communication with a patient, such as sexual misconduct, which was reported to 33 of the 48 boards who responded.

    “We’ve just found a new way to violate our own standards,” Jason Jent, PhD, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics, Division of Clinical Psychology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Florida, said to Medscape Medical News. Dr. Jent, who has published about physician online behavior, has no association with the JAMA letter. “Some of the violations we’ve seen in face-to-face communication, or over the phone, or by mail have now extended to online behavior. This is something we have to pay attention to,” he added. The study authors say much the same: “Furthermore, these violations also may be important online manifestations of serious and common violations offline, including substance abuse, sexual misconduct, and abuse of prescription privileges.”  Dr. Jent said that these violations may actually be underreported. “People come across these, and it’s so new they’re not sure they should report it,” he said. “Or, on the flip side, are we seeing an increasing prevalence of online professional violations that may call for more specific training for online behaviors?”

  • DALLAS (AP) — Two women subjected to body cavity searches along a highway have settled their civil rights lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety.The Dallas Morning News reports the $185,000 settlement was finalized Tuesday. A DPS statement Wednesday says an agreement was reached by all parties and the litigation has been settled.Last July’s search of 38-year-old Angel Dobbs and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley Dobbs, by a female trooper was captured by patrol car video. Trooper Kelly Helleson allegedly used the same glove for both body searches. No drugs were found.Helleson, who was later fired, faces two counts of sexual assault and two counts of official oppression.

  • California – U.S. judge says victims’ bodies can prevent rape

    A Southern California judge is being publicly admonished for saying a rape victim “didn’t put up a fight” during her assault and that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen. The California Commission on Judicial Performance voted 10-0 to impose a public admonishment Thursday, saying Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson’s comments were inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics.  See entire news article by clicking on USA hyperlink below:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/12/13/judge-women-rape-victims/1768673/

  • AUSTIN — Austin police are partnering with local non-profits to fight an expected rise in human trafficking during Formula 1 weekend. It’s a crime that grows anytime Austin has an influx of visitors. Restore a Voice is among a network of groups working together to solve the issue and provide help to the people who are rescued from slavery during F1 weekend.  “They will come to our clubs, and they will enjoy our downtown district as they should. There will be a lot of partying going on, but they want more than that. There are many people who come for the seedy side of the sporting event,” said founder of Restore a Voice Larry Megason.  Restore a Voice is establishing shelters for the people APD rescues during race week, and plans to offer them food, medical, care and counseling.  “And provide a home for them where they can experience the freedom and dignity,” said Megason.

    The Austin Police Department is unsure how many trafficking victims they will rescue during F1, but the department is preparing for a busy week.  “It could be one victim. It could be 200,” said APD Victim Services Supervisor Dolores Laparte-Litton.  Human trafficking is also known as modern day slavery, underage prostitution and sexual exploitation. Four out of five victims are U.S. citizens. Up to 300,000 girls between 11 and 17 are lured into the sex industry every single year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

    “Traffickers regularly beat them into submission, and generally there is a process of breaking down an individual’s will,” said advocate John Nehme.  Nehme is creating a documentary called, “Trade in Hope that shares the story of women who were trapped in slavery and how volunteers are helping them overcome their past. Sex trafficking was a huge problem at the Super Bowl in Dallas in 2011. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott called it the single largest human trafficking event in the United States

  • Report: Decade-Long Review Shows Texas Supreme Court Is Activist, Ideological

    Court Watch—January 26th, 2012
    The Texas Supreme Court has a long history of favoring corporate defendants over families and small businesses, according to a decade-long review of the Court’s decision making by Court Watch, a project of the non-profit Texas Watch Foundation.

    Court Watch reviewed the 624 cases involving consumers decided by the Court between 2000 and 2010. The report, “Thumbs on the Scale: A Retrospective of the Texas Supreme Court, 2000-2010,” finds that the state’s high court for civil matters “has marched in lock-step to consistently and overwhelmingly reward corporate defendants and the government at the expense of Texas families.”

    “The Texas Supreme Court is an activist, results-oriented body that over the last 10 years has developed into a safe haven for corporate defendants at the expense of individuals, families, and small business owners,” said Alex Winslow, director of Court Watch. “The statistics speak for themselves. The court’s pro-defendant ideology can not be disputed.”

    Among the report’s findings are:

      • Corporate and government defendants prevail in an average of 74% of cases annually.
    • Consumers have lost 79% of cases in which they were pitted against a corporate or government defendant.

    These findings lead Court Watch to conclude: “The Texas Supreme Court has become a reliable friend to those who seek to escape the consequences of their actions; its justices are the ultimate guardians for the moneyed and powerful who wish to shirk responsibility.”

    The report focuses on the decade beginning in 2000 because it reflects a paradigm shift. In 2000, Rick Perry became governor. His appointees to the Court have taken it in a decidedly activist and ideological turn.

    • Justices appointed to the Court by Governor Rick Perry have sided with consumers an average of just 29% of the time.

    Despite a constitutional provision limiting its jurisdiction to questions of law – not fact – the Court has routinely overturned decisions made by local juries. Even Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson admonished the Court in a 2004 dissenting opinion, writing: “This Court is constitutionally bound to conduct only a legal – not factual – sufficiency review.”

    • Texas Supreme Court has overturned local jury decisions in consumer cases an average of 74% of the time since 2004.

    Court Watch writes that “The jury is our smallest, most direct, and least corrupted form of government. … However, the Texas Supreme Court has displayed a fundamental disregard for juries.”

    Court Watch has been monitoring and reporting on the Texas Supreme Court and the impact its decisions have on Texas families since 1996. During that time, Court Watch has issued an annual list of the most anti-consumer cases of a given year. In keeping with that tradition, this report includes a “Dirty Dozen of the Decade,” a representative sampling of the most dangerous, far-reaching decisions made by the Texas Supreme Court during the last decade.

  • The Law Offices of Kevin R. Madison is proud to announce a new record in obtaining swift justice for the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. A woman who had only worked for her employer for one week was subjected to unwelcome lewd remarks and physical groping by her male employer.  During the first week at her new job, the client’s employer made a lewd comment about her breasts, patted her on the buttocks, and later groped one of her breasts, stating, “I just wanted to know if they were real.”   Within 12 hours of being hired on the case, attorney Kevin Madison contacted the perpetrator, obtained a confession from him, and obtained an agreement to settle the sexual harassment case for $35,000. Funds were delivered 72 hours later. Another victory for women in the workplace.

     Although we are proud of this swift settlement it is unusual to get these results so quickly. We welcome the opportunity to serve victims of: sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the workplace; sexual abuse and exploitation of patients by doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, family counselors, clergy, priests, and rabbis. Visit our website at www.kevinmadison.com and www.texassexualharassmentattorney.com

     Attorney Kevin Madison’s training and experience as a police investigator, police chief, and assistant district attorney distinguish him from other attorneys in the field.  Mr. Madison has 30 years of litigation experience and holds an “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory – the highest rating awarded to attorneys for legal competence and ethics.