Your supervisor is having an affair with your co-worker, and everyone knows it. Your supervisor has never subjected you to coercive behavior or unwanted sexual advances. Nonetheless, you may have a viable sexual harassment claim on the basis of “sexual favoritism” under California law.
“Sexual favoritism” occurs when a supervisor has an office romance with one or more of his subordinates and shows favoritism towards them, thus creating a hostile work environment for those employees who are not involved in an office romance with the supervisor. Such sexual favoritism conveys the implicit message that women are “sexual playthings” and/or that women must have affairs with their supervisors in order to get ahead in the workplace.
To successfully bring a sexual harassment claim based on sexual favoritism, you must demonstrate that widespread sexual favoritism was severe or pervasive enough to alter your working conditions and create a hostile or abusive work environment. In turn, in determining whether the work environment was “hostile” or “abusive,” courts will evaluate the totality of the circumstances, such as the frequency of the office romances and whether they unreasonably interfered with your work performance. An isolated, brief office romance will likely not be enough to demonstrate that the sexual favoritism in your workplace was severe or pervasive.
“Sexual favoritism” is not a frequently litigated theory – but this may change in light of the me-too movement.
If you believe that you have been subjected to sexual harassment at work, call ((916) 612-0326) or email ([email protected]) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Granite Bay, and Elk Grove.
The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.