Sexual Harassment Must Create a Substantial Interference – Sexual Harassment Attorney – San Diego Employment Lawyer – 619.202.0264

Where the federal cases require a showing of severe or pervasive harassment, case law develops it’s own inquiry to satisfy a Civil Rights Act claim. Various cases do demonstrate reliance on the severe or pervasive inquiry; however, these cases have either been decided under Title VII or in reliance on the federal E.E.O.C. guidelines. The majority view employs an inquiry that directly reflects the State’s own Civil Rights Act.

The Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act guides courts to consider whether “[t]he conduct or communication [had] the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s employment.”

The Supreme Court relied on this portion of the statute in Radtke v. Everett, stating that a hostile work environment claim must be evaluated to determine “whether the unwelcome sexual conduct or communication was intended to or in fact did substantially interfere with plaintiff’s employment.”  It is with this inquiry of substantial interference that guided the court to decide that even a single act of sexual harassment could create a hostile work environment for the employee. In Radtke, the plaintiff’s employer held her down on a couch in the lounge of the workplace and “attempted to kiss her by grabbing her neck and pushing his face towards hers.” The court found this incident sufficient to satisfy the statute due to the particular environment of this workplace.

In Schemansky v. California Pizza Kitchen, Inc., the court followed the Radtke reasoning and required the plaintiff to establish that harassing comments made by her co-workers “had either the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with the plaintiff’s employment….” The plaintiff in this case did not establish substantial interference in her employment through her complaint of three incidents having to do with preparation of the plaintiff’s food and one incident of improper name-calling. The court found that these incidents were not sexual in nature and did not substantially interfere with her working environment.

Overall, while peppered with reliance on the federal statute, cases differentiate the Civil Rights Act and decide cases according to the clear intent of the legislation. The Supreme Court interprets this legislative intent to require a finding of substantial interference with a plaintiff’s work environment in order to satisfy a claim of hostile work environment sexual harassment.

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. – 619.202.0264

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