Take all claims of sexual harassment seriously, not just the ones involving members of the opposite sex. Don’t ignore same-sex harassment or think that it’s somehow less serious than other harassment.
Recent case: Teasha Rogers, who identifies herself as a lesbian, took a job as a probationary animal-control officer. She claims that almost immediately, her supervisor and her trainer, both of whom are women, began to hit on her.
The supervisor allegedly invited Rogers to go on a skydiving expedition—and to join her in bed. Then, after Rogers had a fight with her partner, the supervisor showed her a nude photograph of herself and asked her if that made her “feel better.”
Rogers alleged that her female trainer suggested that cheating on one’s partner was fine as long as no one got caught. She allegedly put her arm around Rogers while the two were in a car.
After rebuffing those sexual advances, Rogers—who had previously received good—began to face criticism. She went to HR and picked up a complaint form, but didn’t fill it out. The next day, she was terminated, supposedly for neglecting her duties.
Rogers sued, alleging that she had been forced to work in a sexually hostile environment.
The court looked at Rogers’ allegations and concluded that a reasonable person might have felt intimidated and harassed, especially since some of the conduct was coming from a supervisor and trainer—people who could influence her progress at work. It said a jury should hear the case to decide what happened and whether it was sexual harassment. (Rogers v. Johnson, et al., No. C08-4395, ND CA, 2010)
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