Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Opinion Digests / Employment Law / Isolated Grabbing Not Sexual Harassment

Isolated Grabbing Not Sexual Harassment

A female school employee who alleges a male school employee made two attempts – the second one successful – to grab her breasts because he said he wanted to see if they were “real” cannot sue for Title VII sexual harassment based on these isolated incidents, says a Charlottesville U.S. District Court.

There are no allegations plaintiff had reported any prior experience with this employee, and there is only the bare assertion that plaintiff has since discovered that the school board knew or should have known of the male employee’s inappropriate behavior with other females before the incidents with plaintiff.

The conduct alleged here regarding the two incidents does not reach the requisite level of severity or pervasiveness to constitute sexual harassment under Title VII. Although the male employee’s actions were criminal and either of the defendants may be liable to plaintiff under a state law theory, the allegations regarding the male employee’s conduct simply do not constitute sexual harassment under Title VII.

While no one condones boorishness, there is a line between what can justifiably be called sexual harassment and what is merely crude behavior. The school board took speedy action  upon plaintiff’s report of the second incident, and there were no further events.

Title VII claims are dismissed.

Davis v. City of Charlottesville School Board (Moon) No. 3:11cv0026, Dec. 1, 2011; USDC at Charlottesville, Va. VLW 011-3-676, 11 pp.

Leave a Reply