A California man is suing Trader Joe's for failure to prevent sexual harassment, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, negligence and retaliation. According to him, he was embarrassed after being given a sex toy at a 2014 work Christmas party.
The man had worked at Trader Joe's for more than seven years when he attended the Christmas party and gift exchange. He said that it was held on a day that he was not working, but he was expected to attend and felt that he had to in order to maintain good employee relations. When a female coworker gave him a sex toy as a gift, he said he felt humiliated and distraught. He was also upset that the gift was given to him in the presence of his supervisor.
In his internal complaint, he said that had the genders been reversed, he might have been fired and would have at least received a reprimand. Several days after the party, he said the woman who gave him the gift teased him about receiving it. He also reported that his supervisor did not seem to take the issue seriously. He also said that the woman who gave him the gift made false accusations about him that the same supervisor had questioned him about. Two days after being told his report was under investigation, the man was terminated.
As this case demonstrates, men may face sexual harassment on the job just as women sometimes do. Furthermore, even if a company has a mechanism for reporting harassment, the response might not be satisfactory and could be retaliatory. While it may be best to initially try to resolve a sexual harassment issue through the employer's established procedure, people might want to consult an attorney before doing so to get a sense of their rights and how they might proceed in various scenarios.