Legal and Ethical Issues for Sex and Porn Addicts, Part 2, Civil Liability

This entry was posted in Blogs and tagged on

This article is derived from a teaching presentation created by Stuart Leviton, COO of Seeking Integrity and Sex and Relationship Healing.

Sadly, the behavior of sex and porn addicts, as it escalates over time, sometimes crosses both ethical and legal boundaries. Such behaviors can and often do lead to consequences beyond the usual problems that addicts (of all types) typically face. In last week’s post, we examined what is generally the most severe category of these consequences, the violation of criminal laws. This week, we will examine civil liability issues.

Civil Liability in the Workplace

Cultural challenges can lead to numerous workplace conflicts. Such conflicts may arise from:

  • Male manager, female subordinate
  • Business trips
  • Dress codes
  • Dating in the workplace
  • Social media in the workplace
  • Water cooler talk (sports, sexualized TV shows, dirty jokes, etc.)
  • Compliments on appearance

The preceding list is hardly exhaustive. It is presented merely to provide some common examples of potential problem areas, any of which could lead to a Title VII violation.

Title VII (the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964) prohibits discrimination based on sex. Sex includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination includes harassment that is “so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment.”

Some states are more protective than others.

For example, California protects sex (biology), gender (normative, including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression.

In CA, forms of harassment include:

  • Verbal harassment, such as epithets, derogatory comments or slurs, repeated romantic overtures, sexual comments and jokes, and prying into another person’s personal life.
  • Physical harassment, such as unwanted touching, rubbing against someone, assault, and physical interference with movement or work.
  • Visual harassment, such as derogatory cartoons, drawings, or posters, or lewd gestures.

Civil Liability Outside the Workplace

Sex, porn, and substance/sex addiction can lead to legal issues not just in the workplace but at home and in other areas of life.

  • Cohabitation may create property issues, estate planning issues, etc.
  • Marriage may involve prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, estate planning, etc.
  • Divorce necessitates property division, child custody, etc.
  • Sexual behavior may create parentage issues, child support, etc.

All of these issues are commonly experienced by sex and porn addicts. Often, it is one or more of these issues that drives an addict into treatment and recovery.

In next week’s post, we will examine legal vs. clinical considerations for professionals who work with active and/or recovering sex and porn addicts. In the interim, if you or someone you know is struggling with sex, porn, or paired substance/sex addiction, help is available. For information and guidance, please contact us via email at this link.