Federal case law clearly establishes that for hostile work environment sexual harassment to be actionable, it must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment. Case law on this subject does not delineate exactly what type of behavior must occur for an employer’s conduct to rise to the level of severe and pervasive. The courts do, however, place emphasis on certain criteria for examining an employer’s behavior.
In Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc. the Supreme Court explains an employer’s behavior should be examined in light of frequency, severity, whether the behavior is physically threatening or humiliating, and whether the behavior unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.
Using these criteria, the Court in Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, determined that an employer’s behavior was severe or pervasive and did rise to the level of hostile work environment sexual harassment. The employer in Faragher subjected his female employees to offensive touching, lewd remarks and the use of offensive language to talk about women. This same examination led the court in Lockard v. Pizza Hut, to find that a Pizza Hut supervisor had created a hostile work environment by playing offensive music while at work with his female employee and by ignoring the employee’s requests for help when she was being physically harassed by male customers of the restaurant.
These two cases present a clear picture of the types of behavior that rise to the level of sexual harassment under Title VII. But, as Harris explains, no single factor is required” for a finding of hostile work environment sexual harassment. These cases merely present some especially egregious examples of harassment, but they do not mark the boundary of what is actionable.
If you are sexually harassed while on the job in San Diego, contact our San Diego sexual harassment attorney today to set up a free consultation. Our San Diego employment law and sexual harassment Attorney will assist you when you encounter sexual harassment at work.