Britney Spears Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
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UPDATED: Sep 14, 2012
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Pop star Britney Spears has settled in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against her by former bodyguard, Fernando Flores.
The two-year long legal battle began when Flores alleged that Spears was inappropriately exposing herself to him regularly. He testified that while wearing see-through clothing, Spears would drop objects on the ground in order to bend over in his presence, forcing him to see her naked.
He also made claims that the singer was a negligent and abusive mother to her two sons. Spears denied all of the claims made against her.
Although details of the case have not yet been released, court documents recently obtained by entertainment media outlet, E! News, reveal that Spears’ attorneys have come to a settlement with Flores to end the case.
Sexual Harassment Lawsuits, Explained:
The lawsuit Flores brought against Spears is considered a civil matter, which is different from a criminal suit. Sexual harassment lawsuits come with specific elements established under law. The United Stated Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as, “Unwelcome sexual advances requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”
There are two types of sexual harassment lawsuits. The first, known in legal terms as quid pro quo, involves sexual advances made toward an employee or a demand for sexual activities. The other, called “hostile work environment harassment,” is when an employee is made to feel uncomfortable due to “severe or pervasive” conduct happening around them, not necessarily at them. The Spears-Flores lawsuit exemplifies a hostile environment case as Flores indicates that Spears’ actions created adverse working conditions.
In cases of hostile work environment, employees must prove that the sexual conduct they were subjected to was distracting enough to have affected their job performance. The court takes into consideration the employer’s—in this case, Britney Spears’—overall way of interacting with the accuser, whether the conduct left the plaintiff physically or mentally scarred (although this is not a required element), and how often the conduct occurred. Although Flores only worked for Spears for a short time, it is enough to bring suit.
Details of the case, which have not yet been disclosed, will show whether Flores was able to prove any of these defining factors in a hostile environment case. It is possible, given the news of a modest settlement, that some of the allegations may have been proven, but without further insight from the court documents, this is merely speculation.