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Sexual harassment at work can be indirect and covered up

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2020 | sexual harassment |

Sexual harassment at work is often indirect and happens covertly when victims in Pennsylvania and elsewhere do not respond immediately to the incremental actions of the perpetrators. This could well be what has happened to a former worker for SpaceX who had served with the company as a summer intern for three years before being denied full-time employment following a series of three annual intern assignments. The plaintiff claimed in the legal filing that there was no indication that she would not be hired full-time on a permanent basis after graduating college.

Also central to the sexual harassment complaint is the claim that she was offered a transfer out of the department where the activity was occurring after discussing the problem with the SpaceX Division VP. No direct sexual advancement was reported, but she did say the former supervisor kept her in private company meetings longer than with her other male associates when employment responsibilities were discussed. In addition, he commonly discussed topics outside work.

The supervisor who was the primary subject of the complaint also supposedly suggested to the plaintiff that she spoke to certain men too often, which could have been either a ploy to keep her away from certain employees or establish an underlying retaliation defense in the event she made an issue of the supervisor’s comments. While she claimed no direct sexual suggestions were made, the supervisor did tell her she was “unique” and that he could “spend the rest of his life” trying to figure her out.

While these are all merely accusations by the plaintiff against her former employer, it is still incumbent on the plaintiff’s sexual harassment attorney to prove these elements of the claim. However, civil claims are determined by the preponderance standard regarding totality of the evidence. Even though company records may not contain direct evidence of a claim’s validity, a sympathetic jury can consider all the evidence, including personal testimony, when reaching a final decision after a trial presentation.