In a recent case, Plaintiff was an intern at a water treatment plant. Defendant, Plaintiff’s supervisor, showed him pornographic images on his computer. Defendant also told Plaintiff vulgar sexual jokes. Defendant also suggested that Plaintiff visit his home and once said, “Why don’t you just kiss me?” Defendant claimed that the joke telling and computer images were “mere banter among male co-workers.”
The court found that sexual harassment can occur between members of the same gender as long as the employee can show that he was harassed “because of sex” or was exposed to disadvantageous conditions to which employees of the other sex weren’t exposed.
Courts have recognized many situations that show same-gender harassment is discrimination “because of sex.” Explicit or implicit proposals of sexual activity between same-sex employees are sufficient proof of harassment if there is credible evidence that the harasser is seeking a same-sex relationship. However, harassing conduct doesn’t necessarily have to be motivated by sexual desire. Sexual comments intended to humiliate an employee and challenge his sexual identity can be sufficient to show unlawful harassment because of sex.
In this case, Plaintiff presented enough evidence to support an inference that Defendant was motivated by sexual interest.
BOTTOM LINE: Same-gender sexual harassment claims are just as dangerous as claims filed by opposite-sex employees. An employee need not necessarily object at the time of the offensive conduct to later pursue a claim, so you must make certain that everyone in the workforce is trained on the do’s and don’ts of proper workplace conduct and not wait until an employee complains to be proactive.
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The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.
Are you or anyone you know been sexually harassed at work? Contact the Law Offices of Payab & Associates @ (800) 401-4466 or visit http://employmentlawyersla.com/ if you have any questions regarding your rights at the workplace.