Company Liability: Sexual Harassment and Inappropriate Rewards
Sexual Favoritism falls under the Hostile Environment category of the federal law that governs harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Sexual Favoritism is not a federal law unto itself (although some states declare it as such), but an aspect of either Quid Pro Quo or Hostile Environment that is worth exploring.
This type of harassment occurs when employees, who submit to a manager or supervisor’s sexual demands, are rewarded by that manager or supervisor. It is important to note however, that the wronged party(ies) is not the one who submitted, but those who did not and are denied the benefits of the submission.
In other words, employees who are otherwise denied raises or promotions may claim that they were penalized by the sexual attention directed at the favored coworkers.
How has the court ruled in these cases?
- Isolated events and non-coerced submission to sexual demands have not been upheld by the courts as sexual harassment.
- The employer may be held liable for unlawful sex discrimination against other persons who were qualified for but were denied that employment opportunity or benefit.
- Supervisors may also be held liable.
Astra AB, a Swedish company, admitted it allowed a hostile work environment — including requests for sexual favors in exchange for favorable treatment – for women at its U.S. headquarters in Westboro, Massachusetts.
Award: $9,850,000 in monetary damages
Protect your business from this type of harassment. Make sure your employees are well-trained in harassment and discrimination prevention and awareness.
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