Maier Law Group

Blog

Employment and Privacy Law Blog

Sex, Sexual Harassment and the Law

 

This week, I've been thinking a lot about sex, sexual harassment and the law - they are almost always linked. I am reminded of 2010 headlines, in which Sandra Bullock and hubby Jesse James were everywhere. James was unfaithful, it appeared more than once, and included in his repertoire of sexual misconduct were allegations that he sexually harassed an employee. The employee claimed that James put up inappropriate pictures in the workplace, propositioned her, exposed himself to her, and when she complained, terminated her in retaliation. These are classic examples of hostile work environment sexual harassment. Not surprisingly, the employee sued him. From the little I read, her attorney dismissed the complaint with prejudice (meaning she can’t refile it) when they settled the case. This was old news; the case appeared to be settled in 2001. It made headlines only in 2010 because the press seems much more interested in proving James is a sexual derelict.

While I generally feel sorry for celebrities in the sense that their dirty laundry is aired for all the world, I am hopeful that America’s queer fascination with sexual deviancy is opening up a greater discussion in the press of what sexual harassment is and why it’s not going away. For instance, Fox News reported that reports of sexual harassment are increasing, particularly male-on-male sexual harassment. However, in the same article, attorneys at the EEOC still opined that sexual harassment is vastly underreported.