Best Ohio Sexual Harassment Attorney Answer: Do I have a case if my boss touches me or gropes me just once? Do courts require multiple instances of unwanted touching in order for me to bring a sexual harassment case? Can I be fired for reporting sex harassment to HR?
Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar Ohio employment laws. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination and the best step you can take if you are exposed to a sexually hostile work environment or wrongfully terminated for refusing your boss sex is to contact an experienced employment law attorney.
A question that our employment lawyers often get at The Spitz Law Firm is what happens if there is a sexually charged atmosphere at work and an employee experiences unwanted touching from his or her boss, such as grabbing, groping or fondling? The question of what is sufficient when it comes to comments or unwanted contact has been covered extensively on this employment lawyer’s sex harassment blog. (Check out: What Can I Do About Pornography At Work? Best Sex Harassment Lawyer Reply!; Is It Sexual Harassment If My Boss Talks About My Cleavage? Top Attorney Reply!; Can I Sue If My Boss Texted Me That I Have To Have Sex With Him! I Need A Lawyer!; Sex Harassment Lawyer Best Answers: Can A Promiscuous Woman Still File Sexual Harassment Claims?).
Here at The Spitz Law Firm, we routinely deal with sexual harassment cases that run the gamut of single instances of inappropriate comments, touching and other conduct to cases where there is horrific daily sexual harassment. Due to the somewhat strict requirements to bring a hostile sexual work environment claim in Ohio, cases in which there is a single instance of inappropriate sexual comments or contact are sometimes difficult to win. Even though a single instance of sexual harassment can cause irreparably harm, some courts have been hesitant to punish employers for what some label an “isolated” instance.
However, one recent decision has shown that it may become more likely to prevail on cases where an employee is inappropriately touched at work a single time. In Tiffany Jones v. Family Health Centers of Baltimore, Inc. out of the District Court for the District of Maryland, Jones sued her former employer for sexual harassment. Jones alleged that the CFO of Family Health Centers of Baltimore, Ricardo Dajani, sexually harassed her on multiple occasions. In particular, Jones claimed that Dajani made an inappropriate comment to her when he told her he “wouldn’t mind…taking her somewhere or taking her away” or “something like that” as Jones remembered. Jones also claimed that Dajani blocked her path in the hallway and would not let her by him.
These two incidents would most likely not add up to a sexually hostile work environment, especially since Jones could not quite remember what Dajani said when he made the comment that he wanted to “take her somewhere.” However, the final incident of sexual harassment claim by Jones was far more severe. Jones claimed that in April 2011, she left her work area and when she returned, Dajani came up behind her, put his hand on her waist, and she felt his genitals on her buttocks.
This obviously qualifies as extreme and severe sexual harassment, but would a single instance be enough to allow Jones to get her case to a jury and avoid the court throwing her case out on summary judgment? The trial court determined that the single instance of sexual touching was sufficient for Jones’ case to get to a jury. The court held:
These are serious charges of uninvited sexual contact—and the record is troublingly devoid of evidence tending to disprove them….The Court is aware that some older cases suggest isolated instances of unwelcome physical contact may be insufficient to satisfy the severe/pervasive prong of a harassment claim. But in its recent Boyer-Liberto opinion, the Fourth Circuit altered the landscape of hostile work environment litigation. Boyer-Liberto held that a reasonable jury could find a supervisor’s two uses of an odious slur (“porch monkey”), directed toward the plaintiff during a single workplace conflict, severe enough to engender a hostile work environment. If isolated uses of an offensive epithet can render a workplace hostile, the Court concludes that unwanted sexual contact can do so as well.
Thus, the Jones court rejected that the once common belief that a single instance of inappropriate sexual contact or other harassment is not sufficient to prevail on a sexually hostile work environment claim. (Note: Our employment discrimination lawyers blogged about Boyer-Liberto here: Can I Sue If My Boss Racially Discriminated Once? I Need A Lawyer!).
Even if there is a single isolated instance of sexual harassment at your workplace, you should absolutely contact an experienced employment attorney to find out what your rights are. No one should have to endure even one instance of sexual harassment and with this new case law, courts are beginning to agree.
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 The Spitz 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. It does not matter if you have been wrongfully fired or are still employed, there is no reason to wait to find out what your legal rights are and how to protect yourself from sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
The materials available at the top of this page and at this gender discrimination, wrongful termination, and sex harassment 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…,” “I’ve been wrongfully terminated,” 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 The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.