Sexual Harassment as a Result of Visual Displays of Sexual Materials

California law protects employees from hostile working environments. Gov. C. §12940(j)(1). Sexual harassment may take place when an employee is shown sexually explicit photos or videos, which may cause a hostile environment. In Lipsett v. University of Puerto Rico, the court found that the display of pornographic pictures may contribute to a hostile environment. Lipsett v. University of Puerto Rico, supra, 864 F2d at 887. There are several manners in which these sexual materials may be displayed.

An example: A female employee went out on a few dates with one of her co-workers. During one of those dates the two individuals had an intimate encounter. However, the female employee then decided that she wanted to keep her personal life and her work life separate. Hence, she told her co-worker that she did not want to go out with him anymore. The male employee seemed to take the news well. A few days later, however, the male employee began talking to his fellow co-workers about the encounter that he had with the female employee. Besides talking about it, he began sending other employees adult videos, which according to him displayed the different positions that they had tried during their encounter. That same day, the male employee began sending texts to the female employee that contained messages that expressed a desire to try different positions with her the next time they got together. The messages even contained adult pictures and adult videos. The female employee was intimidated by these acts. She felt ashamed that her co-worker would send these messages to her and that he would also share them with other male co-workers. She even complained to her manager, but nothing changed. Each person’s experience is unique. If you find yourself in a similar situation, contact our office.

Another example: A male employee has been receiving pictures from a female supervisor. The pictures sent by the female supervisor display herself wearing only her underwear. When she first sent the pictures, the employee thought it might have been a mistake, so he deleted the pictures and talked to her the very next day about the likely mistake. The female supervisor said to him that she intentionally sent those pictures and asked him whether he liked them. The male employee immediately explained to her that he had a girlfriend and asked her to stop sending him these kind of pictures. The female supervisor did not listen to him and continued sending him these inappropriate pictures, which made him really uncomfortable and distracted him to the point that he could not do his work. Your situation may not be exactly like this, but if there are similarities, contact our office.

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