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Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
As part of our commitment to assist and educate employees in fighting back against the abusive employment practices of employers, we offer a broad range of information about employment law issues in our employment blog.

Can Unwanted Requests For Dates Contribute To A Sexually Hostile Work Environment?

Stop harassment violence in workplace concept. Boss or employer sexually harassed a business woman at work. Depressed girl sitting in office. stop violence against Women, international women's day.

For more than twenty years, our sexual harassment lawyers in Citrus County, Florida have litigated sexual harassment cases in Florida courts. Through their decades of experience representing sexual harassment victims, our sexual harassment attorneys in Inverness, Florida know that a common employment law myth is that unwanted requests for dates do not constitute conduct of a sexual nature and, thus, are not a form of sexual harassment. Because of this employment law myth, many employees mistakenly believe that they are required to endure unwanted requests for dates as a condition of their employment. In this article, our sexual harassment lawyers in Citrus County, Florida explain how the decision in Mesbah v. University of Louisville, 2023 WL 6050232 (W.D. Ky. Sept. 15, 2023) illustrates that unwanted requests for dates do constitute conduct of a sexual nature and can contribute to the creation of a sexually hostile work environment in violation of federal employment discrimination law.

Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

In that case, a woman named Mesbah brought a sexual harassment claim against her former employer, the University of Louisville (the “University”), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). Title VII protects employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. To violate Title VII, sexual harassment must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile work environment. Mesbah claims that she was required to work in a sexually hostile environment in violation of Title VII.

In June 2019, Mesbah was hired by the University in a postdoctoral research position at the University. Mesbah claims that, during her employment with the University, her supervisor “made inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances towards [her] which contributed to the hostile work environment.” Mesbah alleges that the unwanted sexual harassment included “repeatedly asking [her] out for drinks, constantly touching [her] inappropriately, constantly staring at [her] chest and commenting on [her] outfits, repeatedly asking [her] if she has a boyfriend, and constantly sending [her] text messages over the weekends and on non-working time.”

Mesbah contends that, sometime in the Spring of 2019, her supervisor’s behavior became physically abusive. Mesbah alleges that on one occasion when her supervisor “was attacking her about her work and making a disparaging comment about her professional worth,” the supervisor “aggressively smacked her on the back of her head.” Mesbah claims that, at this point, she “knew that she had to move forward with filing a complaint” against her supervisor.

When she lodged a complaint with another supervisor about the behavior, Mesbah asserts that she was directed to report her complaint to a Director. In or around September 2019, Mesbah told the Director that she wanted to file a formal complaint against her supervisor. The Director allegedly demanded that Mesbah not file a complaint, and instead insisted that she would handle the matter internally. The Director then removed Mesbah from her supervisor’s supervision and allegedly promised that Mesbah would “never have to work with him again.” Mesbah, however, claims that the Director never confronted her supervisor about his behavior towards her. As a result, Mesbah maintains that her supervisor “continued to make repeated inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances toward [her], and continually retaliated against [her] for refusing his advances.”

Mesbah contends that because the University “failed to take any remedial action to protect her from further harassment or retaliation,” she “had no option but to leave her employment with” the University.

Contribute To Hostile Work Environment

The University filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Mesbah’s sexual harassment claim. In moving for dismissal, the University argued that the harassment Mesbah allegedly experienced was not sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of her employment and create a hostile working environment. In denying the University’s motion for dismissal, the trial court concluded that Mesbah’s allegations were sufficient to establish that she worked in a sexually hostile environment in violation of Title VII.

In support of its conclusion, the trial court determined that Mesbah’s allegations that she was subjected to unwanted requests for dates contributed to the creation of a hostile work environment. The trial court observed that Mesbah contends that her supervisor “constantly made inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances toward” her, including “asking her out for drinks, touching her inappropriately, staring at her chest, commenting on her outfits, asking if she had a boyfriend, and sending her text messages outside of working hours.” The trial court also pointed out that Mesbah alleges that her supervisor “made disparaging comments about her work and hit her on the back of her head.” Based on these allegations, the trial court concluded that it “can draw the reasonable inference that [the University] created a hostile and abusive work environment.”

Free Consultation For Employees

One of the most critical decisions sexual harassment victims must make is which sexual harassment attorneys to consult with regarding their rights and remedies under federal employment discrimination law. As part of commitment to vindicating the rights of sexual harassment victims, an experienced sexual harassment lawyer will speak with you personally and you will receive the individualized attention your case deserves. We offer free confidential case evaluations for employees, and you will not have to pay to speak with our sexual harassment attorneys regarding your rights. We are available for consultation at your convenience, including scheduling telephone consultations for evenings and weekends.

Citrus County Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Florida, our sexual harassment attorneys in Citrus County, Florida have dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of sexual harassment victims. If you have been sexually harassed at work or have questions about your rights as a sexual harassment victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our sexual harassment lawyers in Citrus County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes sexual harassment cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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