Federal Judge Steps Down Amid Allegations of Inappropriate Sexual Comments and Unwelcome Touching

Earlier this month, a federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit retired amid allegations that he engaged in sexual harassment and unwelcome touching over the course of his 32 years on the bench. According to a recent report by the New York Times, at least 15 women have come forward to report that the judge sexually harassed them through unwanted sexual comments or physical contact, including kissing, hugging, and groping. These allegations are not unlike those in many New York sexual harassment cases.The judge apologized to those whom his conduct affected. However, his comments following his sudden retirement fell short of acknowledging any inappropriate conduct, citing the fact that he has a “broad sense of humor and candid way of speaking.”

One woman who had served as a clerk for another judge on the Ninth Circuit came forward, telling reporters that the judge suggested she exercise naked. She explained that the power dynamics in the legal profession made it difficult for her to come forward with allegations against a sitting judge. Now a professor at a California law school, the former clerk told reporters that she owes it to the next generation of lawyers to create a better version of the legal profession.

Unwelcome Touching in New York Workplaces

Under New York and federal laws, employees should be free of unwanted physical contact in the workplace. This includes unwelcome touching by supervisors or managers, and also by other employees. Depending on the circumstances, unwanted touching can result in one of two types of sexual harassment claims – a hostile work environment claim or a quid pro quo claim.

Hostile work environment claims allege that a workplace has become uncomfortable or unbearable due to pervasive sexual harassment. This normally requires an employee to establish a pattern of events, although some single allegations of unwanted touching may meet the requirements, depending on the specific facts. Quid pro quo claims allege that a supervisor or manager conditioned a benefit or privilege based on a sexual favor.

When a claim of unwanted touching is against a supervisor or manager, there is often no requirement that the company was made aware of the conduct because supervisors and managers are considered agents of the company. However, when a fellow employee is alleged to have engaged in unwanted touching, there is normally a requirement that the employer be made aware and given the chance to remedy the situation. Thus, it is important that victims of New York unwanted touching report the conduct to their employer immediately.

Have You Been a Victim of Unwanted Touching?

If you have been subjected to unwanted touching in the workplace, you should consult with a New York sexual harassment lawyer. The dedicated advocates at the sexual harassment law firm of Phillips & Associates have decades of combined experience handling all types of New York employment discrimination cases, including those involving allegations of unwanted touching by managers and co-workers. We represent both men and women in New York sex discrimination cases, and we provide free consultation to all prospective clients. Call 347-941-1524 to schedule your consultation today.

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