Sexual harassment is often thought of as a female being targeted with unwelcome sexual advances by a male co-worker or supervisor, or a female being subjected to inappropriate comments and jokes made by males in the workplace. However, men can be victims of sexual harassment, too. In workplaces around the country, sexual harassment is perpetrated by both males and females, and both men and women are victims.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome contact of a sexual nature that interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates a hostile work environment. The unwelcome contact might be verbal, physical or visual in nature, and it can be directed from male to female, male to male, female to male, or female to female.
More Male Victims Are Speaking Out
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission spokesman David Grinberg was quoted by various media outlets in 2007 as saying that sexual harassment filings by men had “consistently increased, doubling over 15 years.” According to the EEOC, sexual harassment cases filed by men accounted for 16 percent of all claims in 2009, which was the highest percentage ever.
The first ever court case involving male sexual harassment was in 1995, when the EEOC sued Domino’s Pizza after a female supervisor sexually harassed and then fired a male store manager. A Miami court awarded the male victim more than $237,000 in damages. In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to same-sex harassment cases. The Supreme Court case involved a Louisiana oil rig worker who alleged his male boss and coworkers had sexually harassed him.
Male Sexual Harassment Case Against The Cheesecake Factory
More recently, the EEOC filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against U.S. restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory in 2008. The suit alleged that the company knew about and tolerated the repeated sexual harassment of six male employees at the Chandler, Arizona location by a group of male kitchen staffers. An EEOC press release described the harassment as “abusers directly touching victims’ genitals, making sexually charged remarks, grinding their genitals against them, and forcing victims into repeated episodes of simulated rape.” According to the EEOC, “managers witnessed employees dragging their victims kicking and screaming into the refrigerator.” The suit was settled in 2009 for $345,000.