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People's Law Guide

 

Sexual Harassment: No Longer Just Men Harassing Women

11/24/12

 SEXUAL HARASSMENT: NO LONGER JUST MEN HARASSING WOMEN

       Not long ago, most people believed sexual harassment was limited to men victimizing female workers.  Today, court records show differently. About ten percent of all sex bias complaints are filed by men, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Many people filing sexual harassment complaints tell of being tormented by those of the same gender.  Women, as well as men, are being accused of sexual harassment.

      In South Florida, a federal judge awarded $1.7 million to Elba Llampallas, who testified that she had been sexually harassed by Marta Blanch, a former lover who remained her boss.

      In Pennsylvania, a federal judge permitted a female restaurant worker to sue the business which allegedly fired her after she complained of being harassed by another female.  Three car salesmen in Lawrence, Massachusetts sued their employer, claiming that the dealership's male sales manager frequently grabbed them and made sexually charged comments.

Many Harassment Forms

      Attorney Mark Baloga is one of the men who has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against his former boss. Baloga worked for Paula Maccabee, a town councilwoman in St. Paul, Minnesota. When ordered to attend one-on-one meetings, Baloga stated that his former boss would lift up her dress, rub against him and ask that he become a member of her "harem." Baloga collected $105,000 in a pre-trial settlement.

      Until a 1998 Supreme Court decision, many victims of "non-traditional" forms of sexual harassment were left without legal recourse. Many trial judges were dismissing “non-traditional” sexual harassment lawsuits, stating that conduct of this nature was not prohibited by federal anti-gender bias laws. When ruling on a case brought by a male who worked on an off-shore oil rig, the Supreme Court clarified that sexual harassment laws “must extend to sexual harassment of any kind.”
 
      The Supreme Court’s ruling recognizes that since federal gender bias laws were enacted three decades ago, the composition of America's workforce has dramatically changed. These changes are reflected in the sexual harassment complaints currently being filed.

Victims Seek Money Damages

      Federal sexual harassment laws permit victims to seek three types of monetary damages. Persons may seek reimbursement for lost wages stemming from firings, demotions and in certain circumstances, for their resignations.

      Since job bias victims frequently experience tremendous anxiety and psychological turmoil, they may seek compensation for emotional pain and suffering -- even if they never sought assistance from a mental health counselor.

      In cases where the illegal conduct has been particularly outrageous and extreme, workers may seek to further punish employers with costly punitive damage claims. 

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