In order to prove that an employer’s conduct creates a hostile work environment under Title VII, the employee must further show that her work environment could be perceived as “both objectively and subjectively offensive, [an environment] that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive, and one that [she] in fact did perceive to be so.” This requirement is meant to separate truly hostile and harassing behavior from the more benign behavior that may occur in the workplace. Thus, a supervisor may make a sexually based comment that offends his female employee but does not create a hostile work environment. When an employer maintains a steady discourse of sexually based comments, coupled with offensive touching, the
employer’s behavior would most certainly be objectively and subjectively perceived as creating an abusive environment for an employee.
The Environment Must be Assessed under an Objective Reasonableness Standard courts also aim to distinguish between somewhat innocuous conduct and more dangerous harassment. The Supreme Court explained in Radtke that “[a]n objective reasonableness standard must be utilized to determine whether a hostile work environment exists under the Civil Rights Act.” This standard echoes the federal standard and functions in similar fashion to ensure that an employee is bringing a true hostile work environment claim.
Using this standard, infrequent rude comments or a few unwanted love letters do not create a hostile work environment. However, use of physical force or an attempt to kiss an employee certainly can create such an environment.
Numerous types of behavior can create a hostile work environment. Each sexual harassment case is extremely fact sensitive. However, as a general rule, an employer’s conduct creates a hostile work environment when it crosses the line of normal everyday interactions between males and females into the realm of a patterned or continuous behavior that can be clearly perceived by the victim or the reasonable observed.
The federal courts closely follow the guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.) in order to define hostile work environment sexual harassment. In the early case of Henson v. City of Dundee. the court established the importance of the E.E.O.C. guidelines saying that in pertinent part they provide that Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute 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.
http://www.sandiegoemploymentlawyer.net – 619.202.0264
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