Over the past two years, there has been a surge in harassment against the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Community. More than 9,000 hate incidents were reported between March 2020 and June 2021 across all 50 states. An unknown number of attacks went unreported. Everyone working in a massage business has legal rights, regardless of the type of work being done. You have the same rights and deserve the same respect as any other worker.
同心合力, 저희가 기억하고 잊지 않겠습니다, Pagkakaisa Laban sa Karahasan.
It is common for various kinds of harassment to happen in massage businesses. One kind of harassment happens when you are the target of unwelcome conduct that is based on your race/national origin, gender, sex, or other protected category (i.e. age, religion, disability). Also, an employer has a responsibility to make sure your workplace is free from harassment that is foreseeable. This includes owners of massage business who work off-site. Even if you provide sexual services for money – or perform work that is overtly racialized or sexualized – you still have a right to be free from unwelcome behavior. Other forms of harassment include:
Verbal or Written
Sexual Harassment or Forced Sexual Contact
To report means notifying an agency with specific authority to investigate the incident and going through their specific process for either an investigation into the attack or for data collection.
We strongly suggest finding an advocate. An advocate is someone who can provide you with the emotional and logistical support at every step of this process at whatever you define as your best interests. Suggested organizations that work with AAPI Massage Business Workers include:
We strongly recommend consulting an immigration attorney about your specific case if you are undocumented or a non citizen with immigration status. If you do not have an immigration attorney, you can dial 311 and say “Action NYC” in English to be placed with an organization for free legal services. Even though there might be a wait time to get an appointment, we strongly recommend this option! The Action NYC hotline is free and anonymous, and help is available in 300 languages.
All Government Agencies and employees are forbidden to share your immigration status with anyone. The only circumstance where an Immigration Agency will be notified that you made a report is if the report of the attack is also the basis for an immigration petition, like a U or T visa.
There are two instances when you may be asked about your immigration status. Some questionnaires, which don’t disclose your information to a third party, will ask about your immigration status. Also, Government Agencies may ask about your immigration status if the basis of the hate incident or crime happened because of your immigration status.
Make the report and then consider making a report to a non-law enforcement agency as well. If you feel that the police aren’t taking the report seriously or used demeaning or offensive language when taking your report, you have the option to report that behavior to the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) or the Department of Investigations at the Office of the Inspector General- NYPD (OIG-NYPD). Make sure to get the offending officer’s name and badge number. Under the Right To Know Act, officers are required to give you a business card upon request. The CCRB is an independent civilian oversight agency that investigates claims of certain misconduct by NYPD Officers. Both agencies will accept all complaints and refer complaints outside of their jurisdiction to the appropriate agencies – including the Internal Affairs Bureau eventually.
Yes. However, we strongly suggest that you clear any existing bench or arrest warrants before reporting. If you are unsure if you have a criminal record, we strongly suggest working with an advocate to help you with a record check. When reporting to a law enforcement agency, the prosecutor represents the state – not you. Even though a prosecutor may be sympathetic and is prosecuting the person who harmed you, they are not your lawyer or advocate and are not ethically bound to represent your best interests. It is best to have an advocate that is solely your advocate, representing your best interests.
Your boss will be notified (regardless of where your report) because they are liable for their actions or their failure to provide you protection from the customer. The law requires that your boss protect you from harassment at work. If you report harassment, your boss cannot retaliate against you for making that report. Being fired is considered retaliation, but retaliation can also mean any other treatment that makes your working conditions worse. Changing your schedule to a less convenient time or so that you earn less money can be considered retaliation. Being labeled or criticized (ex. “troublemaker”) or threatened could also be considered retaliation.
Under Biden Administration policies, ICE can arrest you without pre-approval only under very specific conditions: (1) you pose a national security or public safety threat (such as engaging in terrorism or being a known member of a gang), (2) you were apprehended at the border or port of entry on/after Nov. 1, 2020, or (3) you have been convicted of an “aggravated felony” or have been convicted for an offense for which an element was active participation in a criminal street gang. If you believe you may trigger any of these three grounds, we strongly suggest consulting an immigration attorney through Action NYC.
We first suggest developing a safety plan with your advocate, case manager, or members of your community that you trust with your safety. A safety plan is when you think through different ways to keep yourself safe in whatever manner makes the most sense for you. It is also possible to seek an Order of Protection if you have filed a case in court. An order of protection is issued by the court to limit the behavior of someone who harms or threatens to harm another person, which can be obtained in Criminal or Supreme Court and sometimes Family Court under specific circumstances. A violation of an order of protection is a crime. However, while it may be an effective deterrent in some cases, it is not a guarantee.
Reporting an attack does not negatively impact your pending immigration application or case in removal proceedings. However, it is possible that your report of the attack will make you eligible for other forms of relief in immigration court.
If the attack you experienced involved abusive sexual contact and/or a felonious assault, it is possible that you may qualify for U Nonimmigrant Status. If you have felt pressured to perform any kind of labor (including sexual services) in order to avoid any kind of harm or repay a debt at any point during your time in the U.S., it is possible that you qualify for T Nonimmigrant Status. We strongly advise that you consult an immigration attorney through Action NYC to see if you qualify for U or T Nonimmigrant Status and to assist you in reporting the attack and in cooperating with law enforcement.
You may have to disclose that you are a sex worker if the context of the attack is closely tied to your work. Government Agencies do not have the authority to arrest you for sex work. However, it is possible that an LEA can arrest you. We strongly suggest that if you want to report to a prosecutor, you do so through an attorney. Click here for more information on Government and law enforcement agencies for reporting attacks or harassment.
Most people have strong reactions after being victimized/experiencing discrimination and harassment. It is normal and has nothing to do with personal weakness. These reactions may last for several days or even a few weeks.
These feelings are uncomfortable, but – you don’t have to feel this way! The most effective way to feel better is to speak with a professional. There are people who speak your language and are specially trained to help you feel better and handle these new feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable asking someone for help yet, there are things you can do on your own to feel better:
The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.
Last Updated: 10 February 2022
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