Sexual Harassment Claim Sufficiently Alleged Against Aetna; Allegations Included Inappropriate Touching

In Griffin v. Aetna, Inc. et al., 2021 WL 5926501 (Conn.Super. Nov. 30, 2021), the court, inter alia, denied defendants’ motion to strike plaintiff’s sexual harassment (hostile work environment) cause of action.

From the decision:

[I]n order to be actionable … a sexually objectionable environment must be both objectively and subjectively offensive, one that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive, and one that the victim in fact did perceive to be so … Whether an environment is objectively hostile is determined by looking at the record as a whole and at all the circumstances, including the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.” “For an action against an employer for sexual harassment under General Statutes § 46a-60 to be successful, the plaintiff must show that the employer provided no reasonable avenue for complaint, or … the employer knew (or should have known) of the harassment but unreasonably failed to stop it.”

Here, the plaintiff alleges that he was repeatedly subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment by his supervisor based on his sex. The complaint further alleges that on several occasions, Silvestri subjected the plaintiff to unwanted and inappropriate touching, including touching the plaintiff’s back in a “caressing manner,” invading the plaintiff’s personal space, and touching the plaintiff’s arms and shoulders. Count one of the complaint specifically alleges that Tech Mahindra “knew or should have known” that the plaintiff was being harassed because of his sex and unreasonably failed to stop the sexual harassment.

[Cleaned up; citations omitted.]

Based on this, the court held that plaintiff adequately pleaded a prima facie case of hostile work environment/sexual harassment, and therefore denied the motion to strike.

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