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Is Hugging Sexual Harassment? Am I Being Sexually Harassed?

by | Dec 18, 2013 | Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment |

Employment Law Lawyers Answers: What is sexual harassment? What can I do if my boss hugs me? Do I have a claim for sexual harassment?

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Clearly, a boss grabbing a handful of butt or a supervisor grabbing your breast is sexual harassment. But, what actions constitute sexual harassment? A lot of the answers to these are uncertain. Was there prior similar conduct? Were there warnings? Who is making the decision?

Let’s take a simple case that has been in the news. A high school in Duluth, Georgia recently suspended a 17-year old student for an entire year after he hugged one of his teachers, claiming that the “hug” in question constituted sexual harassment. Surveillance video at the school captures the hug in question, whereby the student, Sam McNair, placed his arms around the female teacher, giving her a hug. The video then shows the teacher pushing McNair away. McNair maintains that the hug was an innocent act, however, the teacher says otherwise.

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Indeed, according to the discipline report maintained by the school, the teacher said that McNair’s lips and cheek touched her neck and that she warned Sam about hugging in the past. McNair denies both that his lips/cheek touched the teacher and that he was previously warned by her or any other teacher about hugging.

As a result of the teacher’s complaint against McNair, the school suspended him for a full year. At the time of his suspension, McNair was a senior at the school in question.

Now, this case has drawn national attention and raises the larger question of whether an isolated “hug” constitutes sexual harassment. If anything, this case should signal to employees in the workplace that no incident of inappropriate behavior, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, should be tolerated by the employee or the employer for that matter. Even small inappropriate acts by a supervisor or a co-worker may constitute sexual harassment, especially if the acts occur more than once. Someone like the teacher or the principal may be on the jury.

Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar Ohio laws. If you feel that you are being sexually harassed or are working in a sexually charged or hostile working environment, you should not wait to call the right attorney at 866-797-6040 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, you will meet with a sexual harassment lawyer/hostile work environment attorney to find out what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them. Sexual harrassment is a form of gender discrimination, and employers should be held accountable if they discriminate against female workers in any fashion – but particularly for sexual harrassment.

Disclaimer:

The materials available at the top of this page and at this gender discrimination and employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking “what should I do …”, “I’m being sexually harassed …” “my supervisor grabbed my…”, “my boss is touching…” or “how do I …”, your best course is to contact an Ohio sexual harassment attorney/hostile work environment lawyer to obtain advice with respect to sexual harassment/hostile work environment questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through this employment law website are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.