Is Grabbing By The Neck Harassment?

Question:

If a superior grabs you around the neck to push you to his office, is that physical harassment

Signed,

Pushed and Shoved


Answer:

Dear Pushed and Shoved:

It is difficult to know what kind of crime, if any, was committed without knowing exactly what happened, the circumstances, how the neck was grabbed, and the degree of grabbing and pushing that took place. You can get the best advice about this by showing someone what occurred and asking for assistance, either legally or through your organization.

The legal definition of simple assault in most states only requires purposeful physical contact. If you wish to make a police report, you will be asked to explain all the circumstances. Then, they can decide if it rises to the level of a violation of the law.

If the person who grabbed you and pushed you into the office is of a different gender, and you think the contact was meant to be sexual in nature or was meant to intimidate you because of the gender issue, you might have a situation of sexual harassment. A sexual harassment complaint should first be made to your organization. If this situation has happened repeatedly and you have complained within your company but it is still occurring, you should get an attorney to see about further action.

Whether or not you want to involve the police, EEOC or other resource, you should contact your HR section, personnel or any other section or person who can investigate this and ask for assistance and support.

You should write a complaint, telling exactly what happened. State the exact physical contact that took place, how long the hand was on your neck, how forceful was the push, and anything else that will clearly describe the situation. To ensure that there is follow-up, be certain to state that you want the matter investigated thoroughly and you want appropriate action to be taken. List any witnesses to the situation.

I can’t imagine that the action was meant playfully or harmlessly, but that is something to consider as well. That doesn’t make it appropriate for an office, but it would present a different picture than an angry use of force.

Best wishes as you deal with this unpleasant workplace situation.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.