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Florida bill targets sexual harassment in schools

In our Boca Raton employment law blog, we have discussed the right that employees have to remain free from sexual harassment in the workplace. Whether it is a hostile work environment created by inappropriate comments and offensive photos or quid pro quo requests, there is no doubt that sexual harassment is extremely painful for and damaging to the victim.

Sexual harassment is no less damaging when the victim is a student instead of an employee. In fact, the Florida Senate recently approved a bill that wants to make it clear that sexual harassment in schools isn't acceptable. This bill specifically targets retaliation through the use of sexually explicit images, whether in photographic or video format.

In February, a student attending the University of Central Florida was blackmailed by an ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend was being investigated by campus police. In order to prevent his ex-girlfriend from sharing incriminating information with school officials, the ex-boyfriend not only threatened to post sexually explicit images of the female student on social media sites but did.

Sen. David Simmons sponsored the Florida bill, and he reminded people that "You can do tremendous damage to an individual with the press of a button." His bill proposes making this type of behavior a second-degree misdemeanor charge. Where the images involve a person under the age of 16, he proposes that the perpetrator face first-degree misdemeanor charges.

This bill focuses on criminal sanctions for a specific sexually harassing behavior, but criminal court is not the only place where sexual harassment in schools can be addressed. A Florida employment attorney can help parents determine the legal tools that they can utilize to help protect their children after they have become the victim of sexual harassment.

Source: WESH, "'Revenge porn' bill passes unanimously in State Senate," Brett Connolly, March 19, 2014 

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