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Minutes of nudity on breakroom TV deemed not hostile


A federal judge in Minnesota early this month dismissed a case in which a transit employee claimed her co-workers’ choice of television shows in the staff break room created a hostile work environment, according to a post Monday on Ohio Employer Law Blog.

Opining on Sims v. Met Council, filed in U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota in August, the blogger noted the court’s “little difficulty” in dismissing the suit where an employee was exposed to two scenes of nudity, each lasting less than a minute, and turned off at the request — and “brief argument” — of the plaintiff in the suit.

The woman reported the incident to management, who banned streaming services in the breakroom and later counseled the offending employees on the employer’s workplace policies.

But a lawsuit ensued nonetheless.

In dismissing the case on Oct. 3, the district court wrote that “her exposure to two brief scenes of nudity on a television in the drivers’ lounge cannot reasonably be perceived as hostile or abusive. … Considering all of the circumstances in the light most favorable to (the female employee), … she was simply not subject to severe or pervasive harassment.”

And even if the brief incidents at issue here could somehow arise to objectively serious or pervasive harassment, (her) claim fails because there is no indication that she was subject to something to which male drivers were not exposed. The TV was on for all drivers, male and female, to see. The brief nude scenes were not directed at Sims because she was a female. Poor taste does not amount to prohibited sexual harassment.”





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