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Sexual Harassment

Verified 31 mars 2020 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

Sexual harassment is an offense, regardless of the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. However, the law provides specific protection during sexual harassment for private employees, public officials and trainees.

General case

Sexual harassment is characterized by repeatedly imposing words or behaviors on a person with a sexual or sexist connotation that:

  • offend his dignity by virtue of their degrading or humiliating character,
  • or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive situation against it.

Sexual harassment includes any form of severe pressure (even if not repeated) for the real or apparent purpose of obtaining a sexual act, for the benefit of the perpetrator or a third party.

In both cases, sexual harassment is punished regardless of the relationship between the perpetrator and his victim, even outside the professional environment (harassment by a relative, a neighbor....).

If the perpetrator had physical contact with you, it could be a sexual assault, which is a more severe offense than sexual harassment.

If your situation requires urgent intervention by the police, you can alert the police or the gendarmerie.

In case of emergency, and only in this situation, it is possible to alert the police or the gendarmerie by telephone call, or by SMS if you are unable to speak.

By phone

In an emergency, when a rapid response is required, you must call the emergency police.

Who shall I contact
  • Rescue police - 17

    By phone

    Dial 17 in the event of an emergency involving a traffic accident, a disturbance of public order or a criminal offense. A team of policemen or gendarmes will visit the site.

    You can also dial 112..

    If there is no emergency, call your police station or gendarmerie number.

    By SMS

    You can also send a free SMS to the 114.. If you cannot speak (danger, disability), you will then communicate in writing with your correspondent.

  • European emergency number - 112

    112

    Emergency number to be used for a call from a European country or from a mobile phone

    24x7

    Free call

By SMS

If you have difficulty hearing or speaking, you can also send an SMS to the 114.. You will then communicate in writing with your correspondent.

Who shall I contact
  • Emergency number for people who cannot call - 114

    114

    By SMS

    Free 24/7

    By emergency application 114

    Free 24/7

    Contact possible via:

    • Visiophony
    • Chat
    • Voice / Text Return

    Through the Internet portal http://www.urgence114.fr

    Free 24/7

    Contact possible via:

    • Visiophony
    • Chat
    • Voice / Text Return

Instant messaging (chat) allows you to chat with police or gendarmerie personnel. At any time, the chat history can be deleted from your computer, mobile phone or tablet.

Report sexual or gender harassment

Ministry of the Interior

You can file before the criminal justice system within 6 years of the last act (gesture, speech...) of harassment. Justice will take into account all the elements constituting harassment even if the facts took place over several years.

On site

You must contact a police station or gendarmerie of your choice.

You cannot be denied receipt of the complaint.

The complaint is then transmitted to the public prosecutor by the police or the gendarmerie.

By mail

You can lodge a complaint directly with the public prosecutor. We need to send free paper letter the court of the place of the offense or the place of residence of the offender.

The letter must include the following:

  • Civil status and full contact information (address and telephone number) of the complainant
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Assumed author's name if you know him (otherwise the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of potential witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or final injury estimate
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, various invoices, findings .....
  • Willingness to take part in civil proceedings

Make a complaint to the public prosecutor

Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Dila) - Prime Minister

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by simple letter. You can also file your complaint directly at the court reception. In all cases, a receipt will be given to you as soon as the public prosecutor's office has registered your complaint.

If the complaint is dismissed, you can file a filing of complaint..

You can get legal assistance.

Who shall I contact

To the extent that gender is one of the prohibited discrimination criteria under the law, you may also refer the matter to the Ombudsman.

Who shall I contact
  • Advocate

    By telephone (general information)

    09 69 39 00 00

    Local Call Cost

    Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm

    By mail (to enter the Defender of Rights) By free mail, without postage

    Advocate

    Free answer 71120

    75342 Paris cedex 07

    Attention: attach to your mail copies of the documents relating to your referral.

    By Email

    Access to contact form

Sexual harassment is an offense punishable by:

  • 2 years' imprisonment,
  • and €30,000 fine.

These sentences can be increased to 3 years imprisonment and €25,000 where the acts are committed:

  • by a person who abuses the authority conferred upon him by his office;
  • a minor under 15 years of age;
  • on a person whose particular vulnerability, due to his age, illness, infirmity, physical or mental disability or pregnancy, is apparent or known to the perpetrator;
  • on a person whose particular vulnerability or dependence resulting from the precariousness of his economic or social situation is apparent or known to the author;
  • by several persons acting as an author or accomplice;
  • through the use of an online public communication service or through a digital or electronic medium;
  • a minor was present and attended;
  • by an ascendant or by any other person having legal or de facto authority over the victim.

The perpetrator of sexual harassment may also be sentenced to pay damages to his victim.

Work

Sexual harassment is characterized by imposing on a person, repeatedly, remarks or conduct having a sexual or sexist connotation, which:

  • offend his dignity by virtue of their degrading or humiliating character,
  • or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive situation against it.

Sexual harassment also occurs when such statements or behaviors are imposed on the same victim by several persons, in a concerted manner or at the instigation of one of them, even though each of these persons has not acted repeatedly.

The same applies when the words or behaviors are imposed on the same victim, successively, by several people who, even in the absence of consultation, know that these words or behaviors characterize a repetition.

Moreover, any form of serious pressure (even if not repeated) exerted for the real or apparent purpose of obtaining a sexual act, to the benefit of the perpetrator or a third party, is also considered to be sexual harassment.

In the workplace, sexual harassment occurs even if there is no hierarchical relationship between the victim and the perpetrator (between colleagues of the same level, of different services...)

If the perpetrator had physical contact with you, it may be a sexual assault, more severely punished.

If your situation requires urgent intervention by the police, you can alert the police or the gendarmerie.

In case of emergency, and only in this situation, it is possible to alert the police or the gendarmerie by telephone call, or by SMS if you are unable to speak.

By phone

In an emergency, when a rapid response is required, you must call the emergency police.

Who shall I contact
  • Rescue police - 17

    By phone

    Dial 17 in the event of an emergency involving a traffic accident, a disturbance of public order or a criminal offense. A team of policemen or gendarmes will visit the site.

    You can also dial 112..

    If there is no emergency, call your police station or gendarmerie number.

    By SMS

    You can also send a free SMS to the 114.. If you cannot speak (danger, disability), you will then communicate in writing with your correspondent.

  • European emergency number - 112

    112

    Emergency number to be used for a call from a European country or from a mobile phone

    24x7

    Free call

By SMS

If you have difficulty hearing or speaking, you can also send an SMS to the 114.. You will then communicate in writing with your correspondent.

Who shall I contact
  • Emergency number for people who cannot call - 114

    114

    By SMS

    Free 24/7

    By emergency application 114

    Free 24/7

    Contact possible via:

    • Visiophony
    • Chat
    • Voice / Text Return

    Through the Internet portal http://www.urgence114.fr

    Free 24/7

    Contact possible via:

    • Visiophony
    • Chat
    • Voice / Text Return

Instant messaging (chat) allows you to chat with police or gendarmerie personnel. At any time, the chat history can be deleted from your computer, mobile phone or tablet.

Report sexual or gender harassment

Ministry of the Interior

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In the private sector

If you are a victim of sexual harassment at work, you can report the incident to staff representatives and the Social and Economic Committee.. You cannot be punished for denouncing these facts, unless the denunciation is based on imaginary facts.

In the Public Service

You can use the system for reporting violence, discrimination, moral or sexual harassment and gender-based activities in the public service. This mechanism must be put in place in each administration by 1to May 2020. It provides for appropriate procedures to collect reports and to guide the officer declaring himself a victim or witness.

The Head of Service shall inform the officer under his authority of the existence of the reporting device and of its use. and its procedures.

The system must guarantee the strict confidentiality of information transmitted by the victim or witness when processing the report.

Against the perpetrator

You can file a criminal complaint within 6 years after the last act (gesture, speech...) of harassment. Justice will take into account all the elements constituting harassment even if the facts took place over several years.

On site

You must contact a police station or gendarmerie of your choice.

You cannot be denied receipt of the complaint.

The complaint is then transmitted to the public prosecutor by the police or the gendarmerie.

By mail

You can lodge a complaint directly with the public prosecutor. We need to send free paper letter the court of the place of the offense or the place of residence of the offender.

The letter must include the following:

  • Civil status and full contact information (address and telephone number) of the complainant
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Assumed author's name if you know him (otherwise the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of potential witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or final injury estimate
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, various invoices, findings .....
  • Willingness to take part in civil proceedings

Make a complaint to the public prosecutor

Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Dila) - Prime Minister

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by simple letter. You can also file your complaint directly at the court reception. In all cases, a receipt will be given to you as soon as the public prosecutor's office has registered your complaint.

If the complaint is dismissed, you can file a filing of complaint..

You can get legal assistance.

Who shall I contact

Against the employer

In the private and public sectors, the employer must take all necessary measures to prevent acts constituting sexual harassment. To this end, it shall bring to the attention of its employees the laws against sexual harassment.

If the harassment was committed in the workplace, a specific procedure may apply in addition to the victim's complaint:

You can conduct one of these proceedings at the same time as a criminal complaint. The complaint may be filed without the victim being required to inform his employer. These two separate actions and can be aimed at different people: for example, you can sue the CEO of your company in the prud'homme and your department manager, the perpetrator, in the criminal case. Your employer will then be tried for not having protected you sufficiently.For example, you can sue the CEO of your company in the case of the prud'homme and your department manager, the author of the facts, in the case of criminal proceedings. Your employer will then be judged for not protecting you sufficiently.

The employer will have to show that the facts presented by you do not constitute sexual harassment.

Persons who denounce sexual harassment or fight against it cannot be punished or dismissed.

  Please note : in a company, any representative trade union organization may, with the written consent of the harassed person, take legal action in its place.

Referral by the Ombudsman

To the extent that gender is one of the criteria for discrimination prohibited by law, and that work is one of the situations in which discrimination is sanctioned, you can also refer the matter to the Ombudsman both with regard to the perpetrator and with regard to the employer.

Who shall I contact
  • Advocate

    By telephone (general information)

    09 69 39 00 00

    Local Call Cost

    Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm

    By mail (to enter the Defender of Rights) By free mail, without postage

    Advocate

    Free answer 71120

    75342 Paris cedex 07

    Attention: attach to your mail copies of the documents relating to your referral.

    By Email

    Access to contact form

Sexual harassment is an offense that can be punished up to:

  • 2 years in prison,
  • and €30,000 fine.

In the event of abuse of authority (for example by a superior), penalties may be imposed up to:

  • 3 years in prison,
  • and €25,000 fine.

These aggravated penalties shall also apply where sexual harassment has been committed:

  • on a person whose particular vulnerability due to an illness, infirmity, physical or mental disability or pregnancy is apparent or known to the perpetrator;
  • on a person whose particular vulnerability or dependence resulting from the precariousness of his economic or social situation is apparent or known to the author;
  • by several persons acting as an author or accomplice.

The perpetrator of sexual harassment may also be sentenced to pay damages to his victim, in compensation for his injury.

In addition, any private sector employee who has engaged in sexual harassment is liable to disciplinary sanctions..

The same applies to any public official responsible for the same acts, according to the public sector sanction procedures..