Differences Between Harassment, Assault And Misconduct


Unwanted or unsolicited sexual behavior directed at you by a colleague, supervisor or boss is illegal if it affects you mentally or physically and leads you to not being able to do your job properly because of the behavior. It’s not always easy to determine just where sexual harassment starts. If it is persistent and stops you from doing your job properly or makes you feel unsafe you should take action to stop it. If you think that this is what has been happening to you, you should first contact your supervisor or manager to see if they can do anything. If nothing changes, talk to an employment lawyer about your legal options.

What to do if you are facing sexual harassment

You will know when attention from a co-worker or supervisor becomes unwelcome and borders on sexual harassment, or even sexual assault. If you think that the behavior exhibited crosses the line of acceptability, then you may be able to sort out the problem by talking to the person directly, or failing that, a superior. There may be recommendations to be followed in your employment contract or handbook. This may dictate company policy and provide an approved method of dealing with harassment or assault.

You need evidence that you are the victim of sexual harassment. This term covers things like unwelcome comments, getting too close to you, sexually suggestive emails, stalking and requests for sexual favors. Sexual assault is more serious as it almost always means that unwanted physical contact has been made. This may mean unwelcome or forced kissing, groping or rape. Sexual misconduct is a less well defined term and may mean behavior at work which is not tolerated by employees of a sexual nature. Sexual assault is actually a criminal offense in any of the 50 states, so this is something you shouldn’t tolerate, but make a complaint to the police about.

A sensible way to behave when encountering unwanted sexual harassment or assault is to mention this to the harasser first, then if the behavior continues talk to a boss, unless it is the boss that is doing the harassing. If there is no change and you feel that insufficient attention is taking place, make an appointment with an employment lawyer.

There is quite a lot of evidence that you can collect which will help you win a claim against a harasser or your employer if they fail to provide as safe environment for you to work in. You can gather any physical evidence like letters, images, and social media comments about you or emails. If cell phone messaging or phone calls are persistent, you could try saving as many as possible and recording any phone calls. You may also be able to get co-workers who have observed the harassment happen being to you to make statement on your behalf. There may also be video footage which can be used to back up your statements about unwanted sexual harassment that was recorded by a security camera at your workplace.

Speak With an Attorney

Sexual harassment is not permitted in workplaces by both federal and state employment laws. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission is the federal watchdog when it comes to cases of sexual harassment which is regarded as a form of sex discrimination under federal and most state legislation. Sexual assault is a criminal offense and could lead to a police investigation. None of the possible actions that you could take against this form of unwelcome behavior is easy and could be stressful. The best advice is to talk to an employment lawyer about the situation you have been experiencing. The lawyer could negotiate with your employer or help you file a claim against them.

Additional Resources