What Is The Difference Between Sexual Harassment And Sexual Assault?

What Is The Difference Between Sexual Harassment And Sexual Assault

While there is some overlap between sexual harassment and sexual assault, they are also distinct from each other. It is important for you to understand the similarities between the two as well as when sexual harassment might rise to the level of sexual assault. If you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment or assault, the attorneys at Swartz Swidler can work with you to help you to seek legal redress for the wrongs that you have suffered.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a prohibited form of sex discrimination under both state and federal law. It includes unwanted sexual conduct such as unwelcome sexual advances, verbal conduct, physical conduct and requests for sexual favors in instances in which the following apply:

  • Your submission to the unwelcome advances is made as an explicit or implicit condition of your employment;
  • Your agreement to or rejection of the conduct is used for employment decisions;
  • The conduct unreasonably interferes with your ability to do your job, or creates an intimidating or hostile work environment;
  • You are subjected to sexual displays of offensive material or inappropriate jokes on an ongoing basis.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault occurs when you are the victim of intentional physical contact that is sexual in nature without your consent. This can include unwanted sexual touching, rape and other similar acts. Not resisting physically or verbally does not necessarily constitute consent if you are intoxicated, unconscious or otherwise physically incapable of refusing. If you verbally or physically refuse the overtures, you also have not given consent.

A comparison of sexual harassment and sexual assault

Sexual harassment may be illegal in the context of your employment while not necessarily being illegal under the criminal law. You may be able to seek remedies for prohibited sexual harassment under the state or federal civil rights laws.

Sexual assault is considered to be a criminal offense that is committed against another person regardless of their employment. However, sexual assault may also happen in the workplace. It is possible that some victims may be subjected to conduct that constitutes both prohibited sexual harassment and criminal sexual assault at their jobs.

What to do if you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment or assault

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or assault at your job, you may have legal rights under both the state criminal laws and the state and federal civil rights laws. You might want to talk to the experienced employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler about what has happened to you. If the conduct was criminal in nature, your lawyers may help you with making a report to the proper authorities. They may also help you with filing discrimination charges with the appropriate federal and state agencies. Contact us today to learn more about your potential case and about your rights.