Severe & Pervasive Harassment

Federal law as well as Los Angeles law requires that for a hostile working environment sexual harassment complaint to be action, it must be sufficiently severe and pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment.

The Supreme court in Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc. explains that an employer’s behavior should be examined in light of the frequency, severity, whether the behavior is physically threatening or humiliating and whether the behavior unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.

The application of these test can create clear examples of sexual harssment.  For example in Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, the Faragher employer held that his actions were severe or pervasive when he subjected his female employees to offensive touching, lewd remarks and the usef of offensive language.  While in Lockard v. Pizza Hut, the court found  a hostile work environment existed when a supervisor played offensive music while at work with his female employee and because he ignore their request for help when she was being physically harassed by male customers at the restaurant.

However, it should be noted that no single factor is required for a finding of hostile work environment.  The existence of such a condition will be considered from the totality of the circumstance.

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