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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and How to Respond

There has been no shortage of news stories about sexual harassment and sexual assault recently, but the two terms often get confused.

Sexual harassment is the forcing of unwanted sexual language toward somebody. This typically occurs in situations where one employee has some degree of power over the other, and essentially thinks that they can do whatever they want. They might make lewd comments, and the other person might protest, but the behavior never ceases. They rely on their power to silence the person making the complaint, and often threaten retaliation.

Sexual harassment becomes sexual assault when one person actually puts their hands on the other person. It can often lead to physical assault.

Neither sexual harassment nor sexual assault is ever okay, and any kind of threat against the person making a complaint is considered retaliation.

If you ever find yourself in a hostile work environment due to the unwanted advances of a coworker, there are several things you can and should do:

  • Make it known that you are not comfortable with it, and say, "No. I don't want to do this."

  • If the perpetrator puts their hands on you or tries to force the issue, you should call the police and file a police report for sexual assault.

  • If the company is large enough to have a separate Human Resources department, file a written complaint. Important: Communications with HR should be done in writing and backed up — otherwise, they'll say they never received anything.

  • In the case of a smaller company that doesn't have an HR department, people have gotten results sending an email to upper management detailing what happened.

Victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment need to know there is help available — and they're not alone. We can help you. As the #MeToo movement has shown, you do not have to suffer in silence. Contact an attorney right away — because you have rights.


Jonathan A. Tand
Founding Member Tand & Associates
1025 Old Country Road, Suite 320
Westbury, NY 11590

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