Becky (supervisor) and Bill (subordinate)are in a romantic relationship will working together. Bill often tried to end the relationship, but never successfully did (he was concerned that it would negatively impact his career). Bill quits work after 3 years of the relationship and files suit of sexual harrasment against Becky and the company on the grounds that Becky did not promote him. The company has a policy forbidding quid pro quo or an harrassing environment. Bill did not report any harrassing environment claims to the company.
Question: even if the sex was consensual, is it still considered harassing? Is the company liable even though Bill never reported harassment?
1 Answer from Attorneys
To answer your question, consensual sex between a supervisor and an subordinate does not automatically constitute sexual harassment. Likewise,the facts that it was consensual does not mean that it is not sexual harassment. You mentioned that you tried to break the relationship off several times, but feared retaliation. Were there ever any threats of retaliation by your supervisor if you broke the relationship off? Did she ever state that the outcome of your relationship would affect your job (adversely or positively)? Also, did you ever reveal or report to anyone that you felt that breaking the relationship off might adversely affect your job?
Concerning whether the company is liable, we need to determine if your supervisor was in such a position as to hold the company liable. Did the supervisor have the ability to hire and fire? Also, did your company provide a manual or any other instruction on what to do in the event that an employee felt that he or she had been sexually harassed?
There are more and more cases involving female superiors and a male subordinates. If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to give me a call for a free telephone consultation.
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