In August of 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard a case involving a woman who served as the nurse and personal assistant to the defendant doctor and later made allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation. (See Stevens v. Saint Elizabeth Medical Center, Inc., 2013 WL 4564525 (6th Cir. 2013)). The plaintiff and defendant doctor engaged in a consensual romantic and sexual relationship that lasted for several years. Id. Shortly after the relationship ended, the plaintiff wrote a letter that she was being pressured to take another job, and so after an investigation, the defendant corporation told both involved that they had the option of resigning or being terminated. Plaintiff was terminated. She then sued bringing sexual harassment claims under Title VII and Kentucky’s anti-discrimination laws, retaliatory discharge and fraud. Id.
It seems that the Kentucky sexual harassment plaintiff wanted to keep working for the doctor she was involved with even after their relationship ended. He did not, and so she was transferred to another division. But, she did not want to be transferred and after she had sent that letter in, and after the investigation was conducted, plaintiff was eventually terminated. That’s when she found a Kentucky sexual harassment lawyer and sued.
The court first looked at the hostile work environment theory. There are two types of sexual harassment, 1) harassment that creates an offensive or hostile environment, and 2) quid pro quo harassment, where “a supervisor demands sexual favors as a condition for job benefits.” (cites omitted). “To establish a hostile work environment claim based on sexual harassment, a plaintiff must make a prima facie showing that: 1) she was a member of a protected class, 2) she was subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment, 3) the harassment was based on sex, 4) the harassment created a hostile work environment, and 5) there is a basis for holding the employer liable.” (cites omitted).
The court did find that there were some texts from the defendant doctor to the Kentucky plaintiff and there were some interactions in the office that made the plaintiff feel uncomfortable, but that the working environment was not permeated with discriminatory intimidation or ridicule, nor was it physically threatening such that it would have unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff’s performance. Id. In essence, the actions were not severe and pervasive since the main objective expressed in plaintiff’s letter was to continue working with the doctor in question.
As for the Kentucky retaliation issue, the court looked at the elements needed and noted that the Kentucky doctor who she complained about, did not fire her. Another person did. There is nothing alleging that the Kentucky doctor in question had anything to do with her getting fired.
Accordingly, plaintiff’s Kentucky sexual harassment lawsuit was dismissed. Though a retaliation claim under Kentucky law is unique in that an individual can be held liable, this is the only element that differs from a Title VII retaliation claim. Id.
If you have been the subject of a Kentucky sexual harassment case, please call and speak to a Kentucky sexual harassment lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew Alitowski, P.A. at 888-ASK-ANDREW (888-275-2637) or contact us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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