November 03, 2013

Fifth Circuit Addresses Same-Sex Sexual Harassment

The Court concluded that a gender stereotype theory could be used to prove illegal same-sex harassment.



The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently considered a same-sex sexual harassment matter. EEOC v. Boh Bros. Const. Co., No. 11-30770 (5th Cir. Sept. 27, 2013), available at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions%5Cpub%5C11/11-30770-CV2.pdf.

The employee was an iron worker. His superintendent admitted to believing that the employee was not manly. The superintendent used foul, sexist language to refer to the employee, mocked him with sexualized acts, and exposed his penis to him while urinating. When the employee complained to another supervisor, he was suspended for three days without pay. The company then conducted a short investigation and concluded that no harassment occurred.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued on the employee’s behalf. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the employee on the sexual harassment claim and against him on the retaliation claim. The employer appealed, and a panel of the Court overturned the verdict. The EEOC then sought an en banc review.

The Court concluded that a gender stereotype theory could be used to prove illegal same-sex harassment. It found that the EEOC could rely on evidence that the supervisor viewed the employee as insufficiently masculine. The Court then determined that sufficient evidence existed to support the jury verdict. Several judges disagreed and wrote dissenting opinions.

To learn more about sexual harassment issues, contact an employment lawyer in your area. This article is presented by the employment law attorneys at Clouse Dunn LLP. For inquiries, send an email to debra@clousedunn.com or call (214) 239-2705.



Source: Story.KISSPR.com
Release ID: 9044