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Can Workplace Sexual Harassment Become a Criminal Offense in Philly?

Workplace sexual harassment is typically handled as a violation of civil law. However, there are some circumstances that could turn this type of harassment into a criminal case too. Pennsylvania has severe and strict penalties for sexual offenses that can lead to an offender spending several years behind bars and owing thousands in criminal fines. If you or a family member was arrested for committing a sexual offense in the workplace, you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia sex crimes lawyer. Criminal lawyer Lloyd Long understands the fear and uncertainty involved with being charged with a sex crime, and is here to represent you. This article will discuss whether workplace sexual harassment can become a criminal offense in Philadelphia.

What is Workplace Sexual Harassment in Philadelphia?

Workplace sexual harassment is a broad phrase that can encompass a variety of actions. For example, frequently making advances at an employee or coworker after they have made it clear that they are not interested in you is considered workplace sexual harassment. Other examples of workplace sexual harassment include:

  • Asking for sexual favors
  • Inappropriate physical contact, like intentionally rubbing against another person or touching an intimate area of a person’s body
  • Making lewd comments about another person’s appearance or asking about their sex life
  • Unequal or abusive treatment based on a person’s sex

This is not an exhaustive list. There are other examples of workplace sexual harassment. It is important to note that not all inappropriate workplace conduct will be considered harassment in Philadelphia. Prime examples of conduct that could result in a criminal charge include:

  • Requesting a sexual act as a requirement for receiving employment
  • Frequent harassment that makes the workplace a hostile environment

To learn more about workplace sexual harassment and what happens if you get charged with harassment in Pennsylvania, you should speak with an experienced Philadelphia sexual offense attorneys right away.

Workplace Conduct That Violates Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Laws

Pennsylvania has several criminal sexual assault laws that can apply to various types of inappropriate workplace conduct. The penalties associated with these offenses may vary depending on the circumstances of each case. The following is a list of sexual offenses that may be related to inappropriate workplace conduct.

Indecent Assault

One offense that can result in criminal penalties for an offender is indecent assault. Making inappropriate contact with another person without their consent can result in being charged with indecent assault. This offense is a second degree misdemeanor that can be punished by two years in prison and $5,000 in criminal fines.

The penalties for this crime can also be increased depending on certain circumstances. For example, if you threaten another employee to comply with the indecent contact, your offense can be upgraded to a first degree misdemeanor. In Pennsylvania, first degree misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $10,000 in criminal fines.

Indecent Exposure

If you expose your genitals to another person in the workplace and you are aware that this will offend or frighten other employees, you can be charged with indecent exposure. This offense is also a misdemeanor of the second degree. If the offender knows or should know that there is a child under the age of 16 around when they commit this offense, the crime will be upgraded to a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Unlawful Dissemination of Intimate Image

If you had a relationship with a coworker or are currently in a relationship with a coworker and you distribute intimate pictures of that coworker throughout the office, you have committed unlawful dissemination of an intimate image (commonly called “revenge porn”). This offense is a second degree misdemeanor.


Does verbal abuse count as domestic violence or harassment? If you frequently make sexual comments to an employee or coworker, you can be charged with harassment. This offense includes not only verbal remarks, but also inappropriate images or caricatures regarding another coworker. This particular conduct can be charged as a third degree misdemeanor. However, harassment can also be a summary offense. In Pennsylvania, summary offenses have a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.

As this list shows, there are various criminal allegations that can arise out of workplace sexual harassment. While many of these offenses are misdemeanors, they still carry a serious amount of prison time if you are found guilty. Additionally, you will likely have to deal with some sort of civil action as well if you commit workplace sexual harassment.

Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a family member was charged with a sexual offense or violating a restraining order after an incident, you should contact an experienced Philadelphia protective order violation defense attorney in Philadelphia for help. With years of experience as a former prosecutor, Philadelphia sexual assault defense lawyer Lloyd Long has invaluable knowledge of Pennsylvania’s justice system and is ready to fight vigorously on your behalf. To schedule a free legal consultation, contact the Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171, or contact us online.