Question : Courtney Gatter was a sales representative for
Courtney Gatter was a sales representative for IKA. The company was owned by the Stiegelmann family, which included René (who worked for the company), and his son, Marcel (who did not). Gatter reported to Refika Bilgic, who was both managing director and Rene’s romantic partner. Gatter was aware of rumors linking René romantically with various female employees. The company took all of its employees (and Marcel) on a sailing trip in the Mediterranean. Gatter had never met Marcel before the trip. On the first day, while Gatter was reclining on deck, René snapped a photograph “up her shorts.” Marcel, who did not have an assigned bedroom, had been sleeping on deck. On the third night, he complained that this arrangement was uncomfortable and asked Gatter if he could sleep in her room. Once in her room, they kissed and he suggested sexual intercourse, but Gatter rejected his advance. Because Gatter knew that René had liaisons with female employees, she felt “damned if she did, and damned if she didn’t” accept Marcel’s advances. Ultimately, Gatter gave in. Although René was upset when he learned that his son and his employee were in a sexual relationship, the affair continued during the trip. As the ship sailed on, Gatter grew more and more uncomfortable with the sexualized environment. On two occasions, she saw René naked: once while he was exiting the shower into a common area on the boat and, on another day, as a towel blew up while he changed into his bathing suit on the beach. On the final day of the trip, Gatter apologized to Bilgic and René for her affair with Marcel. René then berated her, asking her, “How can you spread your legs after the second day?” He gave Gatter an ultimatum: quit working for IKA or break up with Marcel, Gatter agreed to end the relationship. Although Marcel and Gatter never met again, they did continue to text. When Bilgic found out, she fired Gatter. Gatter filed suit against IKA alleging sexual harassment. IKA filed a motion for summary judgment. Issue: Was Gatter sexually harassed? Excerpts from Judge Beetlestone’s Decision: To prevail, Gatter must show that: 1) she suffered intentional discrimina5tion; 2) the discrimination was severe or pervasive; 3) the discrimination detrimentally affected Gatter; 4) the discrimination would detrimentally affect a reasonable person in like circumstances; and 5) the [employer’s] liability. [T]he “intent” element of a hostile work environment claim refers only to whether the behavior was intentionally based on a protected status, not on whether the alleged harasser intended hostility or abuse. The incident which occurred when Gatter saw René toweling himself off after a shower was undisputedly unintentional. The second incident – which occurred when René changed into a bathing suit on a public beach guarded only by a towel – also falls short of intentional discrimination. While changing clothes on a public beach during a company-sponsored trip may exhibit poor judgment, there is no evidence that René intended to expose himself. [Whether the photograph] can be perceived as intentional discrimination a close call. [T]he fact that the photo provides a view “up Gatter’s shorts” could allow a reasonable jury to conclude that the photograph was an intentional act based on Gatter’s sex………………. Required: a. Did this case go to trial? b. If the case is not settled, who will decide whether the events constituted sexual harassment? c. What proof was there that sexual harassment may have occurred? d. Does it matter that Gatter eventually agreed to have sex with Marcel? e. Do you think that Marcel’s position as a part-owner of Gatter’s employer is relevant to a decision about whether or not sexual harassment occurred? f. Does René’s demand that Gatter either stop seeing Marcel or leave her employment connect the harassment and her employment?