Ninth Circuit and Female on Male Sexual Harassment

The EEOC sued on behalf of Lamas, a male worker at Las Vegas' airport. He worked for a service company called Prospect Airport Services. Over time, a female, married employee,Munoz, openly solicited Lamas for sex and a relationship. When Lamas rebuffed him, she recruited co-workers to help. He steadfastly told her he wasn't interested.

Lamas ultimately complained. The first supervisor said she'd talk to Munoz, but didn't. The senior Prospect manager told Lamas it was a "personal" issue but that he would talk to Munoz as a "favor." He actually did talk with Munoz, but she was undeterred.

Lamas over time became upset and offended, his work performance suffered, and - yep - Prospect fired him.

So, the district court held the work environment was insufficiently hostile. The Ninth Circuit reversed. The court went through each element of a harassment claim and found Lamas satisfied each one at least enough to avoid Prospect's motion for summary judgment.

The opinion of course is interesting because it involves a female harassing a male. For readers of this blog, though, it's a reminder of how unsophisticated line management is about harassment. Had the sexes been reversed, it's pretty safe to assume management would not have been so cavalier. Lamas had written evidence of Munoz's come-ons. Management simply did not take him seriously, but then fired him when his performance deteriorated. Jeez. If they're conducting training at Prospect, it's not sinking in or it's not effective.

The opinion is EEOC v. Prospect Airport Services, Inc. and the opinion is here.