The attorney-advisor for Harvey Weinstein, of the Weinstein Company, and Hollywood producer fame, just quit. Lisa Bloom, who gave an interview to Good Morning America, has been credited with calling the actions of Harvey Weinstein “gross.” Additionally, in response to questioning about whether the sexual harassment of Weinstein was illegal, she agreed, but called his actions “workplace misconduct” rather than sexual harassment.
If you’re just learning about this now, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
Is Sexual Harassment Really Just “Workplace Misconduct”?
In the Venn diagram sense of the words, yes, sexual harassment is a form of workplace misconduct. However, this should not minimize the severity of sexual harassment. Fraud, assault, murder, and worse can also be categorized under the excessively large umbrella of workplace misconduct, if those crimes happened in a workplace and involved employees.
Attorney Bloom’s use of the phrase “workplace misconduct” is a common tactic of attorneys. When making public statements, attorneys can protect themselves and their clients from liability by not making specific statements and using the most ambiguous, vaguest language possible.
Is Sexual Harassment a Crime?
Yes and no. Generally speaking, sexual harassment is considered a civil action and not a criminal one. However, it is rather closely linked to the crimes of sexual assault, stalking, or sexual misconduct, depending on the nature of the harassment. If it involves touching, unwanted invasion of privacy, or even just lewd or persistent advances, state criminal laws may be able to provide victims with some relief.
Unfortunately, unless a harasser actually lays hands on, threatens, or is clearly stalking, a victim, calling the police to report the crime will often be ineffective without some evidence to show law enforcement.
Can Workplace Sexual Harassment Lead to an Arrest?
Absolutely. Sexual harassment and sexual, or personal, crimes can easily overlap. While a company may only be held liable financially under civil laws for allowing sexual harassment to occur, the individual harassers can be found criminally liable if their “workplace misconduct” crosses the line into criminal conduct.
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