The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the highest federal appeals court in New York, recently ruled that a heterosexual male can file a sexual harassment claim based on unwanted groping and sex-based comments by another heterosexual male.
In this case, a heterosexual male sued his employer, Seneca Foods Corporation, for sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the New York State Human Rights Law. The employee, a heterosexual male, asserted that he was sexually harassed by a male supervisor. The alleged harassment included crude sexual language, sexual jokes, references to other male employees in sexually obscene terms, and unwanted touching of his genitalia. The employee also claimed that while the supervisor treated other males in the same fashion, women were not subject to the same treatment.
The lower court dismissed the action, relying, at least in part, on the fact that there was no showing that the alleged harasser was homosexual.
On appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, concluding that a reasonable jury could find that the supervisor treated women better than men, and thus, men were subject to disadvantageous in the workplace.