A question was recently posed to one of our employment discrimination attorneys: Can men be sexually harassed? The answer is a definite yes. In fact, men can be sexually harassed by other men. The seminal case on point is the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in Hampel v. Food Ingredients Specialties, 89 Ohio St. 3d 169, 2000 Ohio 128. In Hampel, Laszlo Hampel was employed as a cook for FIS-Nestle. When Hampel complained about not having enough bins for in the presence of Hampel’s fellow employees:
Hampel: “I’m fed up with the way things are running around here, all this product, and no bins to put it in. One of these days I’m going to blow.”
Hord: “Hey, Laz, you can blow me.”
Hampel: “What did you say?”
Hord: “I said, you can suck my dick.”
Hampel: “I’m frustrated because there are no bins and you tell me to suck your dick? I don’t want to think my supervisor is a faggot.”
Hord: “But Laz, I only want you to suck my dick. You’re the only man in the world that I want to suck my dick. Danny and Ed don’t do anything for me.”
Hampel: “Man, you’re sick.”
Coworker: “That is really sick, Jerry.”
Hord: “But, Laz, I want you to taste my cum and go, umm, umm, umm, and I want you to wear my pearl necklace.”
Hampel: “Man, you’re really sick. I’m out of here.”
At the close of his shift, Hampel returned to Hord’s office and told Hord that his remarks were degrading, humiliating, and offensive. To which Hord responded, “if you don’t like it, quit.” So Hampel complained up the chain of command, but still got no response – even though witnesses confirmed the harassment. For seven months the harassment continued. During this seven month stretch, Hord received two merit pay increases, while Hampel applied for and was refused several position changes that would have transferred him away from Hord or placed him in a position where Hord would not be his supervisor. Unable to take it anymore, Hampel took medical leave and then resigned.
Hampel filed suit in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, claiming that appellees violated Ohio R.C. § 4112.99 by subjecting him to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliating against him for complaining about sexual harassment, and that they intentionally caused him severe emotional distress. The jury awarded compensatory damages to Hampel in the amount of $ 368,750 on his claims for sexual harassment and intentional infliction of extreme emotional distress against Hord and FIS-Nestle, and assessed punitive damages against FIS-Nestle in the amount of $ 1,280,000.
The trial court entered the judgment, but the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeal reversed. The Supreme Court reinstated the verdict and set forth the law as follows:
1. A plaintiff may establish a violation of R.C. 4112.02(A)’s prohibition of discrimination “because of * * * sex” by proving either of two types of sexual harassment: (1) “quid pro quo” harassment, i.e., harassment that is directly linked to the grant or denial of a tangible economic benefit, or (2) “hostile environment” harassment, i.e., harassment that, while not affecting economic benefits, has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile or abusive working environment.
2. In order to establish a claim of hostile-environment sexual harassment, the plaintiff must show (1) that the harassment was unwelcome, (2) that the harassment was based on sex, (3) that the harassing conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive to affect the “terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment,” and (4) that either (a) the harassment was committed by a supervisor, or (b) the employer, through its agents or supervisory personnel, knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.
3. R.C. 4112.02(A) protects men as well as women from all forms of sex discrimination in the workplace, including discrimination consisting of same-sex sexual harassment.
If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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