What would be the punishment/penalty for sexual harassment at work?

I hugged a person and asked for a kiss for couple of times which is negated by the person. So I released her and left the place....This is reported as sexual harassment and what would be the punishment/penalty for this action?

Concord, CA -

Attorney Answers (3)

Neil Pedersen

Neil Pedersen

Sexual Harassment Attorney - Irvine, CA

I can only address the potential civil consequences of the conduct. The unconsented touching and request for a kiss is clearly inappropriate conduct in the workplace. As to consequences, there are several possible:

1. You may get fired, or disciplined in some way, and you may be required to go through remedial training on sexual harassment in the workplace. The employer must make a record of dealing with a harasser appropriately to avoid future large exposure if you or another engages in similar conduct.

2. You may get your employer sued. If you are a supervisor, either direct or indirect, of this employee, your actions create strict liability for the employer. If the conduct rises to the level of "severe or pervasive" your employer can be liable to the employee under several theories.

3. You may get sued personally. A harasser in the workplace can be sued individually for the harassment that is done by him or her. This gives the employee the right to sue you directly for money damages, including the employee's attorney fees, expert fees and costs, along with punitive damages. In addition to harassment, the unconsented touching and request for kisses might also be used to state a claim for battery and assault, an intentional tort against you personally, also giving the employee the right to seek emotional distress and punitive damages against you.

4. Your ability to get your next job might be adversely effected. If you are terminated for this conduct, it is possible that when a future potential employer contacts your present employer for a reference, the present employer can truthfully tell the potential employer that you were terminated for alleged sexual harassment of a co-worker.

Sexually harassing another in the workplace is a very serious offense. It has very serious civil repercussions, and potential criminal exposure. It is NEVER appropriate to hug a person and request a kiss in the workplace, unless it is your wife or child. Consider that a VERY bright line.

Good luck to you.

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Steven Mark Sweat

Steven Mark Sweat

Employment / Labor Attorney - Beverly Hills, CA

From what you describe it could result in you being terminated but, it doesn't sound like it rises to the level of criminal conduct for which you could be prosecuted.

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Kevin Rindler Madison

Kevin Rindler Madison

Sexual Harassment Attorney - Lakeway, TX

It depends- the victim could file a criminal charge od assault by contact, which is usually a misdemeanor. There is also a possibility of the victim filing a civil claim against you for assault. You should go visit with an employment law attorney in California and get legal advice.

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