Magazine article HRMagazine

Sexual Harassment Award for Same-Sex Touching Upheld

Magazine article HRMagazine

Sexual Harassment Award for Same-Sex Touching Upheld

Article excerpt

An employer must pay a $300,000 award to a former employee who was the victim of same-sex harassment by a co-worker, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

Rock-Tenn Services Inc., based in Norcross, Ga., failed to take appropriate action after the employee complained that a male co-worker repeatedly touched his buttocks, the appeals court found.

The suit was filed by Jeffry L. Smith, who worked as a support technician at the company's Murfreesboro, Tenn., plant. In two incidents in late 2010, employee Jim Leonard touched or grabbed Smith's buttocks. Both times Smith told him to stop, as the company's sexual harassment policy requires before bringing such issues to a manager.

In June 2011, as Smith was bending over to pick up boxes, Leonard grabbed his hips from behind and began rubbing his crotch against Smith to simulate sex.

Smith then reported all three incidents to the plant superintendent and documented the conduct in a letter. …

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