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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.

Court Finds Sexual Hostile Work Environment Where Harasser Said Husband Was “Not Taking Care” Of Victim “In Bed”

Man touching womans knee - sexual harassment in office

Having fought for the rights of sexual harassment victims for more than two decades, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers have learned that women who work in a male-dominate environment are often subjected to egregious sexual harassment. When a sexual harassment victim works in a male-dominate environment, employers often try to mislead courts into believing that it is more challenging for the victim to prove a sexual hostile work environment harassment claim. In attempting to do so, employers invariably try to justify the behavior at issue by implying that a male-dominant work environment should serve as a “pass” for sexual or offensive conduct in the workplace.

However, that a particular workplace is a male-dominant environment does not absolve an employer of its obligation under the federal anti-discrimination laws of preventing the existence of a workplace hostile or abusive for female employees. As the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals explained in Williams v. General Motors Corp., 187 F.3d 553 (6th Cir. 1999), “a woman who chooses to work” in a male-dominate environment does not “relinquish[ ] her right to be free from sexual harassment.” In this article, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys show how the facts alleged in Desardouin v. City of Rochester, 708 F.3d 103 (2d Cir. 2013) illustrate that women who work in a male-dominate environment often toil in a wretchedly hostile work environment.

Employee Sexually Harassed By Supervisor

In that case, Jewanta Desardouin (Desardouin) brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employer, City of Rochester (the City), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination forbidden by Title VII. Desardouin claims that the City violated Title VII by requiring her to work in a sexual hostile work environment.

In February 1988, Desardouin began her employment with the City as a supervisory security officer. She was the only female supervisor in the Security Operations Department of the Rochester Police Department. Desardouin reported to a man named McIntyre, her supervisor. In May 2008, according to Desardouin, McIntyre began making sexual advances towards her. On a weekly basis, McIntyre told Desardouin that her husband was “not taking care of [her] in bed.” Desardouin testified that she found the sexual advances “threatening.” McIntyre’s sexual advances lasted between two and three months.

After enduring McIntyre’s sexual harassment, Desardouin arranged a meeting with the Officer of Integrity for the Rochester Police Department. The Officer of Integrity told Desardouin that there was nothing he could do. In October 2008, Desardouin submitted to the Professional Standards Section a recording of McIntyre and another Security Supervisor allegedly discussing tampering with her computer and changing her schedule. In February 2009, Desardouin was terminated.

Sexual Advances Create Hostile Work Environment

The City filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Desardouin’s sexual harassment claim.In support of its motion for dismissal, the City argued that the sexual harassment to which Desardouin was subjected was not sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of her employment and create an abusive work environment. The trial court denied the City’s motion for dismissal and ruled that Desardouin “claim of a hostile work environment suffices to warrant a trial.”

In denying the City’s motion for dismissal, the trial court pointed out that Desardouin was subjected to sexually harassing behavior “on a weekly basis over an interval that lasted at least two and perhaps three months.” The trial court also found that the sexual advances “were more than merely offensive.” The trial court explained that “for a male to say to a female employee under his supervision” that her husband was “not taking care of [her] in bed” is the “sort of remark that can readily be found to be a solicitation for sexual relations coupled with a claim of sexual prowess.” “The weekly repetition of such a remark over several weeeks,” the trial court reasoned, “only served to reinforce its offensive meaning, effectively changing the terms and conditions of her employment.” Thus, the trial court concluded, Desardouin’s “allegations of repeated solicitation of sexual relations in a vulgar and humiliating manner suffice to warrant a trial.”

Free Consultation With Ocala Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment attorneys have more than twenty years of experience litigating sexual harassment cases in Florida state and federal courts. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or have questions about your protection against sexual harassment under the federal civil rights laws, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Marion County, Florida sexual harassment lawyers. Our employees’ rights attorneys take 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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