A Holiday Story

Kegler Brown E-mployment Alert

It’s a too-common holiday story, this time playing out in the federal court in New York. According to the court allegations, a supervisor (an assistant dean at a state university) encouraged a female clerk to go to the annual department holiday party, even though she did not want to go because conduct at prior holiday parties made her feel uncomfortable. She went to the party nonetheless, which was held at an off-site location, where the supervisor allegedly made lewd sexual comments and advances, fondled her breasts, chased her around a table, put his tongue in her ear, pinched her side, and pulled her to his lap and asked to meet her after the party. All of this allegedly occurred in front of other employees and colleagues, while another supervisor encouraged him and cheered. Not surprisingly, the sexual harassment case is proceeding in the federal court. [Shiner v. State University of New York, 2012 U.S. Dist. Lexis 155728 (W.D.N.Y. 2012)].

This case is a not-so-gentle reminder that familiarity, holiday parties and alcohol can often produce unintended, and expensive, results.