Philadelphia Employment Law News

Sexual Harassment, Champagne Style?

Sexual harassment takes many forms, all of which are offensive in a different manner. There could be verbal harassment through the constant mention of sex or unrelenting come-ons. There could be written harassment by sending emails or writing notes and leaving sexual images at a coworker's desk. Then there is the worst, which is the physical harassment by inappropriate touching or worse.

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, Stanley Champagne is accused of choosing to take his harassment to the "worse" level of physical harassment by holding his coworker Katiria Velez by her sweatshirt and masturbating on her, according to Courthouse News Service. This event was preceded by an alleged offer by Champagne to provide $50 to Velez so that he could perform oral sex on her.

A sexual harassment claim does not need to rise to the level of physical aggression to be successful in holding an employer or coworker accountable. If there is a single event where a sexual act or relationship is requested by a superior in order to keep a job, obtain a job, or get a promotion, then there is enough evidence to sustain a sexual harassment claim under a quid pro quo theory.

Otherwise, to prove a sexual harassment claim, there must be pervasive actions that create a hostile work environment. Generally, to show that the work environment was hostile there must be repeated actions that are offensive.

Here, Velez claims that Champagne made repeated advances and inappropriate sexual comments that she reported to her supervisors. Had her supervisors attempted to remedy the situation and been successful, Velez's claim might fail. However, nobody stopped Champagne and he was allegedly allowed to physically assault Velez.

It seems like Stanley Champagne's actions will affect not only his future, but the future of his employer as well because the employer allowed the harassment to continue without taking steps to stop it.

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