Woman Offended by Gross Female Employee Can Sue for Harassment

Frank Kollman
Frank Kollman

A federal court in Kentucky will permit a female employee to proceed with her hostile environment sexual harassment claim based on gross, sexual conduct by another female coworker.  Bradford v. Dep’t of Community Based Services, No. 09-206 (E.D. Ky., February 2, 2012).  In the overwhelming majority of hostile environment cases, male employees are accused by female employees of engaging in the offensive behavior.  The court in Bradford merely confirms that same-sex harassment is just as actionable as conduct between male and female employees.

The court was especially troubled by the employer’s failure to respond to repeated complaints of unprofessional, sexual behavior, which included indecent exposure, lewd motions, and vulgar talk.  If an employee complains that a coworker is engaging in unwelcome or offensive comments, based on sex, an employer must conduct an investigation and, if appropriate, take corrective action.  Inaction essentially amounts to approval of the offensive conduct.

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