Sexual Harassment Claims Sufficiently Alleged; Allegations Included Date Requests, Inappropriate Touching, and Staring

In Mesbah v. University of Louisville, Civil Action No. 3:22-CV-567-CHB, 2023 WL 6050232 (W.D.Ky. Sept. 15, 2023), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s hostile work environment sexual harassment claim asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.

As to whether the alleged harassment was “because of” plaintiff’s sex, the court noted plaintiff’s allegations that, for example, the alleged harasser engaged in conduct including “repeatedly asking Plaintiff out for drinks, constantly touching Plaintiff inappropriately, constantly staring at Plaintiff’s chest and commenting on Plaintiff’s outfits, repeatedly asking Plaintiff if she has a boyfriend, and constantly sending Plaintiff text messages over the weekends and on non-working time.”

As to whether the harassment was “severe or pervasive”, the court explained:

For example, Plaintiff alleges that her male supervisor constantly made inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances toward Plaintiff, including asking her out for drinks, touching her inappropriately, staring at her chest, commenting on her outfits, asking her if she had a boyfriend, and sending her text messages outside of working hours. She also alleges that he made disparaging comments about her work and hit her on the back of her head. Assuming the truth of these allegations and viewing them the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court draws the reasonable inference that the cumulative effect of the alleged actions created a hostile and abusive work environment. [Cleaned up.]

Based on this, the court concluded that plaintiff sufficiently alleged her sexual harassment/hostile work environment claims under Title VII (as well as under local law).

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