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Is Sexual Harassment A Crime?

When Is Sexual Harassment A Crime?

It's common to ask the question "is sexual harassment a crime?" There are situations that start out as harassment and advance to a criminal stage. However, it can be confusing to know the difference, and this blog post will make it clearer for you when sexual harassment is no longer just that, but is a crime.

To start, sexual harassment is generally brought up in a civil lawsuit, not criminal. It is not a crime itself, but there are actions that can take place within a sexual harassment situation that are criminal.

Is sexual harassment a crime

In South Carolina, one definition of harassment is “a pattern of intentional, substantial, and unreasonable intrusion into the private life of a targeted person that serves no legitimate purpose and causes the person and would cause a reasonable person in his position to suffer mental or emotional distress.”

Here's a quick overview of sexual harassment:

Highlights Of Sexual Harassment

  • Unwelcome attention - a supervisor or co-worker directs sexual banter towards another employee. If the employee on the receiving end is uncomfortable and doesn't welcome this type of conversation, it is sexual harassment.
  • Conduct that is sexual in nature due to gender - a man may sexually harass a woman, or a woman may pay unwanted, unwelcome attention of a sexual nature to a male.
  • Hostile work environment - if an employee is subject to constant, unwelcome sexually explicit talk, is physically touched in a way that is unprofessional, or has to see offensive pictures, this is a hostile work environment.

Now that we've defined sexual harassment, when and how does it become a crime?

When Sexual Harassment Becomes Criminal Behavior

In South Carolina, these the are crimes that can evolve from sexual harassment.

  • Rape - In South Carolina, when a person is sexually assaulted while in a sexual harassment environment, this is a clear crime.
  • Assault and battery - physical contact that injures a person or the threat of physical violence that stems from sexual harassment.
  • Bullying - in this instance, bullying means posting offensive items about a victim on her social media accounts. In the workplace, a supervisor who persists in harassing an employee after being asked to stop, is considered bullying.
  • Stalking - if a co-worker or manager is sexually harassing an employee, and follows the victim around, calls, texts or posts on the victim's social media accounts, is considered to be a stalker.
  • Pornography - posting child pornography is against the law. It can happen in an environment where pervasive sexual harassment has been taking place.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual harassment, or is the victim of a crime stemming from sexual harassment, contact the South Carolina sexual harassment attorneys at the Anastopoulo Law firm by calling 800-313-2546 for expert guidance on what to do.

Image courtesy of Compliance Training Group

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