What action warrants a sexual harrasment case?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What action warrants a sexual harrasment case?

My manager at work left his personal email open and an email that he sent to another manager labeled me and the other female employee as “hoes”, we are both married and both just found out we are pregnant and informed our employer. When I tried to print the email, it did not print and logged me out of his email. Does this warrant a sexual harrasment case? What if I can’t get that proof?

Asked on May 10, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It probably does not constitute sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is conduct that is directed to or affects you; however, from what you describe, you improperly looked at a personal email between two managers. The law does not regulate how people think or what they privately say to third parties; it regulates how they treat and act towards employees. If this email was not meant for or sent to you but was just private comments between two managers, then it is most likely not sexual harassment. Moreover, even if it could have been considered sexual harassment, you can only sue for compensation for actual injuries or damages (such as loss of job, lower pay, denial of promotion, or enduring a hostile workplace) you have suffered. If there is nothing more than one inappropriate email which you only became aware of by looking at your manager's computer, no harm has been done to you, and there is nothing you could sue for or recover.

Note that if you have suffered some harm that may be related to sexual harassment or discrimination--such as you are paid less then male coworkers, or were passed up for promotion--then this email could be evidence of a discriminatory mindset and could help prove that the harm you suffered was due to sexual discrimination or harassment. It's simply most likely not itself anything you could take action about.

Finally bear in mind that looking at another person's email is itself wrongful--you may have violated some laws in relation to electronic privacy, and you certainly have done something you could be lawfully fired for cause over.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption