A Lucent Technologies employee sought reasonable accommodation under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination after claiming a female employee sexually harassed him and retaliated against him for reporting her behavior.
Among other things, the man alleges the co-worker touched his head with her breasts on one occasion, made five sexually suggestive comments over a period of several months, and wore tight-fitting, sexually provocative clothing.
He was diagnosed with stress and an anxiety disorder, and sought a transfer as a reasonable accommodation. The company refused and he sued.
The court dismissed the suit, saying the man had failed to present facts that would permit a jury to determine whether the woman’s conduct was severe and pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment for a reasonable man. Additionally, the court did not feel the accommodation the man sought was reasonable.
Note: Despite this suit’s failure, employers should be aware of female-on-male sexual harassment. The law doesn’t care which gender initiates the harassment. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized male-on-male harassment as legitimate and consequently worthy of employers’ attention. Remain vigilant to protect against all kinds of harassment.