The Second Circuit, in Legg v. Ulster County, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 34095 (2d Cir. Oct. 2020), refused to vacate a jury’s verdict in favor of four female employees of the Ulster County Jail. The women complained about a workplace that was filled with sexual hostility, including male officers openly viewing magazines like Hustler and Playboy, with the pictures folded out so that women were visible, screen savers of women and music with sexually explicit music. One plaintiff described finding pornographic magazines at her desk and hearing comments made about her body.
The County contested this obviously hostile work environment by claiming that it did not rise to the level of being covered by federal law. The Second Circuit rejected this claim, finding “no difficulty” in holding that the jury had a sufficient basis to find a hostile work environment.
We are pleased to see the Second Circuit let the jury have the final say in whether or not the plaintiffs were sexually harassed. We believe this case will discourage other employers from using the appeal process to defend against sexual harassment, even after a jury has its say.
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