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My friend used to complain that he gets phone calls from credit card companies many times (about 1-2 times per day). I had noticed the same, we would be chilling and he would get such calls and it was pretty irritating. They would change their phone numbers so frequently that blocking the numbers was useless.

One day when we were watching a movie such a call comes and he gets furious. I tell him that I will handle it and I take the phone. I talk to the credit card selling woman for some time asking things I am not at all interested in and then I state that sure I will take it, but when will you sleep with me. She thought she probably misheard and asked me that she didn't get me the last time and I repeated the exact same thing again to her. She paused for around 10 secs and then disconnected it herself and my friend never ever got a phone call from those credit card companies again.

However as I was narrating my story to another friend, I was informed that this probably constitutes sexual harassment. Even though it has been months since the incident, I am a bit concerned. Did I actually do something illegal?

2 Answers 2

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Did I commit sexual harassment unknowingly?

No. That falls short of harassment (sexual or otherwise).

Statutory definitions of harassment typically require a course of action, that is, a plurality of acts. The second time you said it to the agent does not count as plurality because she explicitly asked you to repeat your statement. In some jurisdictions a single act can be cognizable as sexual harassment if the act was egregious (see art. 222-33.II of the French civil code, requiring repetition or plurality of acts absent "toute forme de pression grave"). However, what you describe is a joke that clearly falls short of egregious.

Another reason why this cannot constitute harassment is that obviously the agent is entirely unknown to you and unidentifiable by you. The agent cannot reasonably become concerned for her safety in a context where she basically acts incognito. Nor would it be reasonable for her to allege that the matter annoyed her (that is, for purposes of the statutory definition of harassment) because she was the one who resumed the pattern of unsolicited contacts that understandably irritate you and your friend.

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    "she was the one who resumed the pattern of unsolicited contacts that understandably irritate you and your friend" This was the only thing I had in mind when I behaved rudely. Thanks Feb 5, 2022 at 16:45
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    Downvoters really should show at least a bit of effort and articulate why they think the answer is wrong. Otherwise this pattern of downvoting is looking like some sort of fixation. Feb 6, 2022 at 10:56
  • re: "downvoters really..." I actually upvoted because I think your explanation is reasonable. But I can see someone, wanting to do further research, downvoting based on the fact that the last paragraph is phrased in such general terms that it doesn't provide any starting point for a lay person to do their own googling of what this is based on.
    – grovkin
    Feb 7, 2022 at 15:31
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    @grovkin Thanks, your feedback is appreciated. Assuming that the downvoter wants to do further research, it would make more sense for him to ask for sources or key terms that can lead him to further information. In reality, the pattern/timing of these downvotes in answers I post indicates something less commendable than an intention to know more. Feb 7, 2022 at 16:31
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    Let me make up for the downvotes (I would have done it anyway tbh) by accepting your answer then :) Feb 9, 2022 at 4:19
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The legal answer is that it depends on where in the world you are. In the US, "sexual harassment" is legally subsumed under laws against illegal discrimination, which can exist at the federal level and the state level. You cannot discriminate on the basis of race for employment, housing, public accomodations and so on. You cannot discriminate on the basis of sex in employment. However, you are not employing anyone, so that law does not apply to you. In general, being a customer or potential customer, or a person in possession of a phone, is not a federally-regulated activity.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution protects your right to expression, regardless of whether they may be found to be offensive. It is legal in the US to be rude.

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  • Not sure what a "legal" answer is supposed to mean. A correct answer to a question about law? An answer by a lawyer? An answer not breaking any law?
    – Greendrake
    Apr 25, 2023 at 12:28
  • Great summation of so much nitty gritty: “it is legal in the U.S. to be rude.” Apr 25, 2023 at 19:37

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