How Is Sexual Harassment Different From Sexual Assault?

Both sexual assault and sexual harassment are forms of abuse that should never be tolerated. It’s good to know that there are distinctions between the two types of abuse.

Read on to learn how to distinguish between sexual harassment versus sexual assault.

Sexual Harassment

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment includes the following:

  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Requisitions for sexual favors
  • Verbal or physical harassment that is sexual in nature

It’s important to keep in mind that sexual harassment doesn’t necessarily need to be sexual in nature or directed at one person in particular. For instance, statements about women, in general, can be a kind of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment laws do not protect you from teasing or offhand comments, but these actions can also cause harm and have negative emotional impacts.

Sexual Assault

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), sexual assault is sexual contact or actions that happen without the victim’s explicit permission. Sexual assault includes the following:

  • Attempted rape
  • Stroking or undesired sexual touching
  • Demanding a victim to commit sexual acts, like oral sex or penetrating the abuser’s body
  • Penetration of the victim’s body, commonly referred to as rape

Sexual Harassment vs. Sexual Assault

Sexual harassment refers broadly to several types of unwanted verbal and physical sexual attention. Sexual assault refers to specific sexual contact and behavior, which is usually physical, that pervades without the victim’s consent.

When a person commits sexual harassment, they typically violate civil laws, since you have the right to work and learn without dealing with harassment. However, sexual harassment is not typically regarded as a criminal act. Sexual assault tends to refer to the aforementioned criminal acts.

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is not a legal term, but it’s used casually to address a wide range of behaviors, which can include harassment but doesn’t necessarily need to. For instance, certain businesses do not allow sexual relationships between coworkers, or between an employee and their superior, regardless of whether the relationship is consensual.

We’re Here to Help

If you feel your rights as an employee have been violated, you may be able to recover compensation. Don’t allow your rights to be abused. Your rights are your power as an employee—use them. You don’t have to fight for fair treatment on your own. We’re here for you. Don’t hesitate to contact our firm with your case right away.

Contact our Burbank employment law attorney today at (213) 277-7444 to schedule a consultation!