Most people think that sexual harassment only occurs when someone makes a pass at them or touches them inappropriately. Although this type of conduct may likely be sexual harassment, according to one recent ruling out of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, even less threatening conduct, or conduct directed to third parties, can be a form of sexual harassment as well.
Teresa Stallone, a long-time employee of the Camden County Technical Schools Board of Education, claimed that the head of the schools, Albert Monillas, repeatedly made offensive comments in the workplace. Stallone's claims specified that Monillas sent emails to her and other female employees, in which he suggested that the group share a hotel room during a business trip. Monillas also alluded to the fact that he would like to sleep naked during the trip, while the female employees stayed in the room with him. Furthermore, Stallone claims that Monillas openly discussed nude swimming with other co-workers while Stallone was present.
Stallone reported the misconduct to the school district's affirmative action officer. After this, however, she claims that her salary was reduced by $10,000. Following this, Stallone brought lawsuits under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Although the court dismissed her Title VII claim, Stallone's LAD claim was allowed to continue.
Recently, a judge made a partial ruling on Stallone's case, declaring that her LAD claim can be supported by evidence that she was subjected to a hostile work environment. The judge also said that Stallone's allegations that Monillas carried on sexually based conversations with other workers, and that Monillas made email comments about sleeping in the nude help prove that she was, in fact, subject to a hostile work environment even though the comments may have been directed towards third parties and were not overtly sexual. As Stallone's case proceeds, she hopes that a court will grant her a favorable outcome.
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