The Ups and Downs of Sexual Harassment

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Many people have undoubtedly heard of “upskirting.” "Upskirting" is a highly intrusive invasion of personal privacy. It is best described as a surreptitious act where someone points the lens of a camera or other recording device at an angle to capture images of what lies underneath a dress or skirt. Upskirting captures these images without the victimized person’s knowledge or consent. This behavior is a criminal offense in New Jersey. Under a law passed in 2016, the act of "photographing, filming, publishing and sharing the image of the clothed intimate parts of another person without consent" is illegal in New Jersey. Recording "upskirt" images or videos is considered a fourth-degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months in prison. The publishing or sharing of such upskirting images is a third-degree crime, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Upskirting can also be the basis of civil claims for invasion of privacy and sexual harassment.

There is also another phenomenon that has been in the news recently, surfacing during the sexual harassment scandal of New York Governor Mario Cuomo. It’s not looking up, but looking down. It’s called “downblousing," which is described as the act of looking down a woman's blouse or top to observe or photograph her cleavage. Alyssa McGrath, an aide in Governor Cuomo’s office, alleged that the Governor asked inappropriate questions about her personal life and relationships, and took long gazes down her loose blouse. This conduct is not limited to the Governor’s mansion. It has occurred on public transit systems, stairwells of public shopping malls, and in the workplace. Either way, photographing up a skirt or down a blouse is an invasion of privacy with criminal and civil repercussions. In the employment setting, upskirting and downblousing is unwelcome conduct that can create liability when employees are victimized by these practices. If you have been victimized by upskirting and downblousing in the workplace, even if pictures were not taken, please call the Law Firm of Morgan Rooks PC.

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