Sexual harassment is often talked about, but less often understood. But understanding the complexities of sexual harassment can not only help you avoid a false accusation, but will also help you know what to do if you are accused.
What Can Be Considered Sexual Harassment?
According to LegalMatch, sexual harassment occurs when someone directs unwanted sexual conduct or contact that creates a hostile and offensive environment.
When many people think of sexual harassment in the workplace they often think of the stereotypical “quid pro quo harassment.” But while this does happen, it is the rarest type of workplace sexual harassment. Sexual harassment accusations are often less black and white – but a criminal defense attorney can help you tell your side of the story.
According to the U.S. Department of State, sexual harassment can look like:
- Sexual pranks, or repeated sexual teasing, jokes, or innuendo, in person or via e-mail;
- Verbal abuse of a sexual nature;
- Touching or grabbing of a sexual nature;
- Repeatedly standing too close to or brushing up against a person;
- Repeatedly asking a person to socialize during off-duty hours when the person has said no or has indicated he or she is not interested (supervisors, in particular, should be careful not to pressure their employees to socialize);
- Giving gifts or leaving sexually suggestive objects around;
- Repeatedly making sexually suggestive gestures;
- Making or posting sexually demeaning or offensive pictures, cartoons or other materials in the workplace;
- Off-duty, unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that affects the work environment.
Sexual harassment can fall under the New York Penal Code if it involves the following elements:
- Forcible Touching – which occurs which a person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading.
- Criminal Sexual Act – when a person engages in oral or anal sexual conduct with another person without that person’s consent. This can be charged in the First Degree when there is force used, a Class B felony. It would be charged in the Third Degree when the person cannot consent, a Class E felony.
- Sexual Abuse – occurs when a person subjects another to sexual contact without consent. This can be charged in the First Degree when it is done by force, a class D felony. It would be charged in the Third Degree when it is done without consent, a class B misdemeanor.
- Persistent Sexual Abuse is charged when a person has committed sexual abuse, Third degree or forcible touching and had been previously (within the last 10 years) convicted two or more times and sentence imposed, a class E felony.
What To Do If You’re Accused
If you’re convicted of sexual harassment, the penalties can be severe – ranging from disciplinary action from your employer to termination from your job to even jail time! That’s why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help get your charges dropped! If you’re accused of sexual harassment, LegalMatch recommends some important tips that will help your case and help prove your innocence:
- Take the allegations seriously when you are notified directly by a co-worker or indirectly by other employees, supervisors or human resource personnel.
- Start recording your interactions with the co-worker and write down everything you can recall from prior incidents.
- Ask the employer to identify what steps will be taken by them to determine in good faith the facts of the allegations.
- You may also wish to cooperate with any investigation undertaken to determine whether the allegations against you can be substantiated. It is important that you identify any witnesses and provide any statements or documentation that may support your story.
- Consult with a criminal defense attorney who can help you to respond to the allegations or help with mediation efforts by the company to resolve the issues without resorting to litigation. Consulting with your attorney can also help you to decide how best to respond if the investigation finds that you did sexually harass your colleague. This will also help in anticipating penalties, such as termination, being required to issue an apology, or participation in sensitivity training.
Were you falsely accused of sexual harassment in Westchester County, NY? Or maybe you were charged with harassment but you know the charges are far more severe than what you deserve. When you need justice, get Darren DeUrso to help argue your case! You have the right to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can tell your side of the story convincingly.
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