Recently, in March of 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decided a case that came out of a Michigan lower court regarding a sexual harassment claim. (See Hensman v. City of Riverview, 316 Fed Appx. 412 (C.A.6(Mich.)). In Hensman, Ms. Hensman worked as a dispatcher for the City of Riverview. Her supervisor was the Fire Marshal/Deputy Chief Mr. Batchelder. Id. She alleged that for approximately 6 weeks that she worked with Mr. Batchelder, that he sexually harassed her and created a hostile work environment. Id. She claims that 1) he did not listen to her because he was distracted at how beautiful she is, 2) he complimented her on her perfume, 3) he described her as voluptuous and well-endowed and 4) was an incident where he locked himself out of the office and had to go to her home at 11:30pm and wake her up with her family and kids and said that she looked cute in her jammies. Id. She admits that he never groped or fondled her and that he never sexually propositioned her. Id. After all this, Ms. Hensman filed a complaint with her department and the matter was reviewed. Id. No sexual harassment was found. Id. Thus, she filed with the EEOC and later sued. Id.
In order to establish the Title VII sex discrimination claim, a plaintiff must meet the following 5 conditions, 1) that she was a member of a protected class, 2) that she was subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment, 3) that the harassment was based on sex, 4) that the harassment unreasonably interfered with her work performance by creating a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment, and 5) that there is a basis for employer liability. Id. The Court also noted that the conduct did need to be severe or pervasive. Id. Based on these conditions, the Court held that Ms. Hensman did not have enough evidence to sustain a sexual harassment claim. Id.
Next the Court looked to see if Ms. Hensman had enough evidence to satisfy the requirements for a hostile work environment claim. While looking at the frequency of the discriminatory conduct, its severity, and whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, the Court held that Ms. Hensman did not meet the requirements for a hostile work environment claim. Id. While the comments may have been inappropriate, they were not frequent and did not rise to the level needed by the Supreme Court. Id.
The Court cited a few other cases that had much worse facts as to the alleged hostile work environment discrimination where the Court had not found the allegations enough to sustain such a claim. As the Court indicated, what Mr. Batchelder may have done was offensive, but “simply not substantial enough to satisfy the prima facie showing.” Id.
If you have been the subject of Kentucky sexual harassment or Kentucky hostile work environment discrimination, please call and speak to a Kentucky sexual harassment lawyer or Kentucky hostile work environment discrimination lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew S. Alitowski at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637) or contact us online. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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