In March 2010, the Washington Times reported on a story about a male food runner who worked at an upscale steakhouse in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mr. Pilkington, a married father of two at the time, said that his male supervisor repeatedly groped and sexually harassed him while he worked at the restaurant.
After enduring the sexual harassment for over two years, Pilkington eventually became the key witness in a federal lawsuit filed against his employer, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. As he made this move, he joined a growing number of men who claimed they were being sexually harassed at work.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an agency that explains sexual harassment, sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
What constitutes sexual harassment? It involves unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature, or it can involve requests for sexual favors.
Males are Often Harassed by Other Men
Contrary to popular belief, sexual harassment is not limited to female victims, nor does it always involve members of the opposite sex. While some claims made by men claim harassment by female supervisors and co-workers, most sexual harassment claims by men involve other men.
If a male worker is not receiving unwanted sexual advances from other men, often they are being picked on because they are gay, or perceived as not masculine enough for co-workers.
In the past, it was common practice for employers to ignore these antics and explained them away as fraternity-type behavior, but the EEOC doesn’t see it that way. As the agency has seen more lawsuits filed by male victims, it’s sending a powerful message that such behavior is deplorable and won’t be tolerated.
Susan Strauss, a consultant who advises companies about sexual harassment, told the Washington Times that she was seeing more cases where men were targeted by a sexualized form of hazing.
“If you don’t fit the masculine stereotype or are viewed as effeminate, you get picked on in a sexual way to demean you,” she said.
Sexual harassment against men is underreported because men have a harder time filing a complaint, and some of them are afraid of sounding unmanly or being ridiculed by co-workers.
While coming forward may be embarrassing, it is the right thing to do. In these types of EEOC lawsuits, victims may seek damages, back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages.
Are you a victim of sexual harassment? If so, contact Alan Burton Newman, PLC to discuss your legal options in a free consultation!