Appellate Court Holds Rumors About Sleeping with the Boss Can be Sex Discrimination

Posted on 20 February, 2019 at 0:00

Appellate attorneys successfully argued that spreading rumors about sleeping with the boss can give rise to claims for sex discrimination. According to HR Dive, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court's ruling that rumors about sleeping your way to the top is not an actionable sex discrimination claim. The district court reasoned that the harassment the female employee encountered was based upon rumored conduct and not based upon her sex. The appellate court disagreed.

The case stems from a lawsuit brought by a woman who was working at a Virginia warehouse. She was quickly rising through the ranks at the job. This prompted rumors that she was sleeping with a manager to receive this favorable treatment. It was alleged that the highest ranking manager at the facility was the one who started the rumor. This led to hostility at the job with one manager stating that he could no longer recommend her for promotions because of the rumor. She "was eventually fired and sued, alleging a hostile work environment claim for discrimination because of sex, retaliatory termination and discriminatory termination on the basis that the company fired her without adhering to its three-warning rule."

The appellate court reversed the lower court's dismissal of the claims reasoning that the woman had "plausibly invoked a deeply rooted perception that women, not men, use sex to achieve success" and therefore "the alleged conduct was gender-based."

Written by:   Alexandra Siskopoulos, Esq.

Telephone:   (646) 942-1798

Email:          [email protected]

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Categories: Appellate Attorney News