When people think of sexual harassment or hostile work environment in the work place, most people think of some type of harassment that has gone on for a long period of time. If a new employee, let’s say a female employee, goes to a new job, the amount of time does not always play a role in supporting or dismissing her claims of sexual harassment or hostile work environment says Louisville Sexual Harassment attorney Andrew S. Alitowski. Though, it does play some role, it is not a final factor. A female employee can work at a job for 2 months or 2 years and if there is sexual harassment or hostile work environment, and all the elements are satisfied, then that female employee could have a case.
For example, recently in Ohio, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a case where the lower district court had thrown it out. The facts are as follows. In 2002, a female person went to a company for a job and was hired as a transportation sale representative. During a four (4) month employment with this company she was subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. The work atmosphere was that of a “guy locker room”. Foul language was prevalent everywhere. The mostly male workers called co-workers bitches, whores, sluts, dykes and cunts. Sexually explicit pictures where on some of the computers. Pornographic magazines were lying open on desks. Co- workers brought in nude pictures of their girlfriends. Male co-workers traded sexual jokes and engaged in graphic discussions about their sexual liaisons. Beer was drank in the office on Fridays. On Saturdays, guys came into work without their shirt on. Some of the employees called the female employee a “heifer” with “milking udders” or “moo’ed” when she walked by. Anal sex was discussed. The company did have a policy of reporting sexual harassment complaints to the legal department, but the female employee did not do this, but did tell her boss. Also, there was a 1-800 number to call, but she did not use this either in that she was told that anyone who did use it was usually fired shortly thereafter. Anytime she told her boss about the goings on, he would yell at whoever was doing it to stop and they would. (This was not enough says this Louisville sexual harassment attorney).
To establish a prima facie case of sexual harassment based on hostile work environment, the female employee must adduce evidence demonstrating that 1, she is a member of a protected class, 2, she was subjected to harassment, either through words or actions, based on sex, 3, the harassment had the effect of unreasonably interfering with her work performance and creating an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment, and 4, there exists some basis for liability on the part of the employer. The District (trial) Court, did not find that the female plaintiff satisfied these elements. The U.S. Court of Appeals reversed saying that the female plaintiff had and remanded the case back to be tried. Without getting into it, basically the U.S. Court of Appeals said to the lower court that it got it all wrong and sent the case back to be tried. The U.S. Court of Appeals said that 1, the female employee was a protected person, 2, the words used were explicitly sexual and patently degrading of women. The natural effect of exposure to such offensive conduct is embarrassment, humiliation and degradation, irrespective of the harasser’s motivation especially and all the more so if the captive recipient of the harassment is a woman, 3, that even though the female plaintiff did finish her work, a reasonably jury could certainly find that the complained of harassment made it more difficult to do her job and that satisfied this element, and finally 4, that because her supervisor knew what was going on, that that could be inferred to the company under vicarious liability and hold them accountable (ie. Giving them notice of what was going on). (See Gallaher v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 567 F.3d 263 (6th Cir. 2009)).
If you have been the subject of sexual harassment or a hostile work environment discrimination, please call and speak to a Louisville sexual harassment attorney 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.
If you are injured…Ask Andrew!!!