A claim for sexual harassment can be established by proving a hostile or abusive work environment. To prove such a claim, a plaintiff must establish: “(1) she suffered intentional discrimination because of her sex; (2) the discrimination was pervasive and regular; (3) the discrimination detrimentally affected the plaintiff; (4) the discrimination would detrimentally affect a reasonable person of the same sex in that position; and (5) the existence of respondeat superior liability[, where an employer is liable for an employee’s negligent actions or omissions that occur during the course of the employee’s employment].” Hawk v. Americold Logistics, LLC, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3445, at *12 (E.D. Pa. 2003).
The trial judge considers the totality of the circumstances when considering a sexual harassment claim. The judge will consider factors such as, the frequency of the harassment, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, whether it unreasonably interferes with employee’s work performance, and its effect on the employee’s psychological well-being. For instance, in Hawk, the judge took into consideration that the harassment occurred every day in the form of unwelcome phone calls to the employee, that the harassment was severe by being physically grabbed and shoved against a wall, the employee was humiliated in the sense that she was followed by the harasser around the workplace and was constantly interrupted when conversing with other men co-workers by the harasser, and the employee was emotionally distraught when discussing her harasser during an interview with her employer. The Pennsylvania Eastern District Court found that a jury could “certainly” find that the employee was harassed and that it would detrimentally affect a reasonable person in the same position, denying a motion to dismiss.
For more information, call our sexual harassment lawyers in Philadelphia at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 or submit an online inquiry.