Although many people in California tend to associate sexual harassment claims with female employees, the law applies to both genders. A recent case of a male mechanic who allegedly lost his job for declining the sexual advances of a female shareholder in the trucking company that employed him illustrates how the problem can upset the careers of either gender. Initially, a district court dismissed the man’s case because the complaint prepared by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission failed to properly specify whether he had experienced a hostile work environment or quid pro quo harassment.
Courts have long recognized the distinctions between these two forms of sexual harassment. A hostile environment emerges when the person must work within an atmosphere of pervasive mistreatment based on sex. Quid pro quo harassment describes a supervisor, manager or owner demanding sex from an employee in exchange for better hours, higher pay, promotion or continued employment.
For the man who lost his job, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that his lawsuit did not need to specify which form of harassment occurred because it indicated sufficiently that he had been treated unfairly on the basis of his sex. The panel of judges rejected the employer’s claim that he did not provide enough information to investigate the case.
Someone who wants to learn about legal protections from sexual harassment could speak with a lawyer. After listening to the details of the situation, a lawyer could research how employment law might apply to the conduct of management and co-workers. The person could become informed about how to gather evidence that could support a lawsuit.