Nineteen men and women, all current and former active-duty military members, have filed a lawsuit in California alleging that their superiors subjected them to retaliation when they reported sexual harassment and sexual assault. United States Air Force and the United States Army leaders were named as defendants in the sexual harassment lawsuit.

The plaintiffs claim that the two branches of military service failed to properly investigate the service member’s claims of sexual assault, including rape, and failed to prosecute them.

As many are aware, lawsuits like these have rocked the military in recent months. There have been several similar lawsuits filed recently, and military training instructors are under investigation at Joint Base San-Antonio Lackland for sexual crimes similar to those alleged in this case.

The plaintiffs in the case filed in U.S. District Court in California claim they did not receive due process, free speech or equal protection and that they were denied the right to receive a jury trial after they reported sexual assaults by co-workers.

The majority of the Air Force personnel in this lawsuit immediately reported the incidents. Some of them also sought medical treatments. After reporting the attacks, the airmen claim they were the subject of retaliation and that the people who allegedly assaulted them escaped any form of criminal prosecution. Some of those alleged assailants also received military promotions.

The future of this case and others involving U.S. military remain to be seen. Because this and other cases have been orchestrated to allow the concerns of military members to be aired in the civilian courts, military leaders could be forced to respond accordingly and correct the alleged oversights in rape prevention and prosecution.

Employees here in California, and throughout the U.S., have certain rights in the workplace and one of them is to be free of sexual harassment, abuse and assault. Employees who feel victimized have the right to seek legal counsel to hold employers responsible.

Source: Air Force Times, “Seven airmen sue military over sexual assaults,” Kristin Davis, Oct. 6, 2012