Surprise! Men can sue for sexual harassment too
Although it seems obvious, a recent U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case took twenty pages to come to the conclusion that men can be sexually harassed just the same as women. Shortly after an airport employee’s wife passed away, his female co-worker began hitting on him. After he told her no thank you, her advances became more aggressive and graphic. She gave him semi-nude photos of herself, made sexual gestures, and engaged in inappropriate conversations. The employee kept telling his boss about the conduct, but nothing was done. He grew increasingly distraught and was eventually terminated for his deteriorating performance. The court determined the employee may have been sexually harassed, noting that “even if [the harasser] looks like Marilyn Monroe, [the victim] might not want to have sex with her.” In sum: it shouldn’t be assumed that men would always welcome a woman’s advances. The employee now gets to try his case in front of a jury (EEOC v. Prospect Airport Services, Inc., 9th Cir, Sept. 2010).
Tips: Sexual harassment does not solely mean men harassing women; it can occur between any two people. Disregard personal opinions and always conduct an impartial investigation when someone complains of sexual harassment. Check out our Legal Guide, “Harassment in the Workplace: Avoiding Liability” (3288), and call your Vigilant staff representative if a sexual harassment issue arises at your workplace. We also offer on-site training for supervisors and employees.