California court reverses sexual harassment case involving city

Posted in Sexual Harassment on March 29, 2014

Since 2008, a California man has been forced to deal with on-the-job sexual harassment and its repercussions. Although the man filed a lawsuit within a year of time the unwanted treatment began, he just recently made positive progress in his case.

In 2009, the man filed a claim against the city of Benicia for how officials responded to his claims of sexual harassment. The man says that he was subjected to lewd comments and unwanted advances from his supervisor while he was an intern at the city’s water treatment plant. According to the claim, the supervisor showed his intern explicit images and showered him with unwanted gifts.

According to reports, the intern faced retaliation when he made accusations against his supervisor. In fact, he lost his apprentice position until he finally was able to speak with a higher ranking city official.

Initially, a court determined that no sexual harassment took place, because the man wasn’t targeted because of his sex. On appeal, however, the court determined that the supervisor was clearly making sexual advances toward his intern.

The appeal overturned the inferior court’s decision to reject the sexual harassment claim. In the recent ruling, the appellate court pointed to a change in California law that says sexual harassment doesn’t necessarily have to be motivated by sexual interest. Rather, it’s based on the pressure an employee feels when they are exposed to such unprofessional conduct.

No one deserves to feel uncomfortable in their place of work. Management in any workplace has a responsibility to create a safe and healthy environment, in addition to responding effectively ro reports of harassment.

Source: Times-Herald, “Appellate court nixes Benicia victory in sex harassment case,” Tony Burchyns, March 28, 2014