Posted On: February 6, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Female Shipyard Workers Hostile Work Environment Claim Denied

A female shipyard worker’s allegations of sexual harassment against a supervisor following a single, unwanted encounter did not justify the New Orleans woman’s lawsuit against her employer, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems according to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance, who on April 3 dismissed the female worker’s claim that Northrop Grumman allowed a “hostile work environment.

The female shipyard worker alleged that Barattini “walked up to her until his chest was touching hers, thus ‘chesting up’ to her breasts in a 30-second confrontation,” according to the appellate record. The woman attempted to walk away, toward a narrow passageway of the ship, but the foreman allegedly followed her and the female immediately reported the incident to her supervisor. According to the lawsuit the woman alleged that:

“He forced his way through the door ahead of her, and, in doing so, placed his hand on her stomach and ran his arm around her waist,” the record states. “As he squeezed passed her in the passageway, he allegedly ‘rubbed his pelvic region across her hips and buttocks.’ ”

In 2007, the woman filed suit against Northrop under Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, alleging sexual harassment, and seeking lost wages due to disability, continuing emotional distress and other claims. According to the Advocate, the lawsuit stemmed from a single, 90-second encounter on May 10, 2006.

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