Articles tagged 'sexual harassment'

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Can an Employee Get Fired For Punching a Sexual Harasser?

© Piotr Marcinski - Fotolia

By Eric B. Meyer

Can you smack your sexual harasser, complain, and still claim retaliation?

The plaintiff in this case (Speed v. Wes Health System) claimed that she was sexually harassed by her male supervisor for over a year. The court’s opinion details alleged comments and groping in vivid detail. (No recap here. I plan to keep my post PG, damn it! OK, PG-13. You happy, now?).

Whenever the plaintiff supposedly complained, her employer did nothing about the harassment. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

When Sexting and Flirting isn’t Sexual Harassment At All

Sexual harassment

By Eric B. Meyer

To prove sexual harassment, a plaintiff must have been subjected to pervasive or severe behavior based on the plaintiff’s sex. Further, not only would an objective person have to find the behavior offensive, but the plaintiff must be offended as well.

Usually, when a plaintiff claims sexual harassment, a court takes for granted that conduct at issue offended the plaintiff.

But, I just read about a case that bucked the trend. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Title VII Prohibits Retaliation Based on Good Faith Claim of Harassment


By Eric  B. Meyer

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on a number of protected classes. Sexual orientation isn’t one of those protected classes specifically listed in the statute.

So, if an employee complains about sexual-orientation harassment and is later fired because she complained, then that won’t create a claim under Title VII. Or does it?

In Bennefield v. Mid-Valley Healthcare, Inc., an employee allegedly complained to her supervisor that a co-worker was creating a hostile work environment by, among other things, calling the employee a “disgusting lesbian” and a “stupid lesbian.” Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Will Congress Require Sex Harassment Training For Its Employees?


By David N. Goldman

Many private employers, and the agencies under the federal executive branch, provide regular sexual harassment training to their employees. Yet, one notable employer, the United States Congress, does not.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, seeks to bridge that gap.

This week, Speier introduced a resolution to amend the Rules of the House of Representatives to require members and their staff to take “a specific program of training in the prevention and deterrence of sexual harassment in employment.” (Section 1 (a)(1)).

The annual training would be two hours for new members and employees, and one hour thereafter. (Section 1 (a)(3)(B)(ii)). Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Is It Unreasonable to Tell Your Boss to Stop Sexually Harassing You?

123RF Stock Photo

By Eric B. Meyer

I can actually feel the daggers that some of you are staring into me.

So, please allow me to explain.

How to demonstrate sexual harassment

When an employee sues for sexual harassment, he/she must show four things:

  • He or she was subjected to conduct of a sexual nature;
  • The conduct was unwelcome; Read more…
HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

How a Single Kiss CAN Cause a Harassment Lawsuit


By Eric B. Meyer

I give a lot of “respect in the workplace” training. And I generally tell the audience that, while a single offensive comment or act in the workplace is one incident too many, one instance generally does not create a winning lawsuit.

That’s because a plaintiff must show that he/she was subjected to either severe (really, really bad) or pervasive (a lot of bad) behavior to establish a hostile work environment.

Now, there are some exceptions. New Jersey is one of the few states that has held that a single discriminatory comment can create an actionable hostile work environment claim.

But what if, instead of a slur, we have an assault; one which the plaintiff claims was not only unwelcome, but particularly disturbing? Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Sharing Topless Photos At Work: Not Smart, But Not an Invitation, Either

123RF Stock Photo

By Eric B. Meyer

Dear Google User Who Got Four Words Into This And Clicked:

Sorry, this is an employment law blog.

From time to time we have some prurient (look it up) content. Like, this one time, I blogged about a former prostitute who sued for sexual harassment. Sure, I’ve also discussed Playboy-posing cheerleaders, and a place called the Wild Beaver Saloon. And then there was that post about the strip club. Make that posts (plural).

Anyway, to those who got here looking for topless photos, again, I’m sorry. I cannot accommodate (look it up) you. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

The 2 Critical Questions From San Diego’s Sexual Harassment Scandal


By Ashley Kaplan

As the number of women accusing San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment reaches the double digits, public interest surrounding the case is at an all-time high, as well.

In the wake of the accusations – and despite intense pressure to resign – Filner refuses to step down. Instead, Filner is undergoing two weeks of intensive behavioral therapy (that was completed early) for what he admits was “disrespectful conduct.”

Because of his time in therapy, a judge has postponed the embattled San Diego mayor’s deposition. A new date has not been set, but the judge ordered both legal sides (Filner and the former communications director who filed the suit) to appear at a hearing on September 16. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Iowa Court: Upon Review, Firing Attractive Female Was Not Sex Discrimination

© konstan -

By Eric B. Meyer

So, by now, all of you must be familiar with the case in Iowa — I’ve blogged the heck out of it here and here — where the male dentist fired the attractive female hygienist, ostensibly because his wife was concerned that the hygienist’s continued employment might affect their marriage and because the dentist was concerned that he may eventually shag her.

Late last year, the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously held that there is no sex discrimination if a male employer terminates a long-time female employee because the employer’s wife, due to no fault of the employee, is concerned about the nature of the relationship between the employer and the employee.

Then, a few weeks ago, and after a lot of public scrutiny, the Iowa high court agreed to reconsider its unanimous ruling, which it did with this new opinion issued on Friday. Read more…

HR Management, Legal Issues

Sex Jokes, Sexual Harassment Make For a Bad Workplace Combination

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By Eric B. Meyer

When offering respect in the workplace training for employees and supervisors, I emphasize that an employee who laughs at sex jokes in the workplace is the same employee who may later sue for sexual harassment.

Like Little Ladner did.

(Yes, Little Ladner)

Ms. Ladner used to work for a nursing home in Mississippi. In her Complaint against her former employer, she alleged a kitchen sink of classic sexual harassment: Read more…