When romantic relationships between Texas co-workers end and turn hostile, accusations of sexual harassment may not always prevail in court. A district court ruling highlighted the difficulty in proving workplace discrimination based on sex. In the case of two police officers who ended a relationship, the court ruled that the male officer's hostile behavior after the break up did not represent attacks based on the ex-girlfriend's gender.
The man engaged in hostile verbal attacks using profanity against his co-worker. She also endured constant text messages, voicemails and social media messages from the ex-boyfriend. He mixed his attacks with requests to resume their relationship. The judge interpreted his behavior as disappointment about the failed romance instead of hostility toward the female co-worker's gender.
Because the court denied the woman's claim of sex-based harassment, legal protections for workers did not apply. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 established that someone could not be discriminated against or harassed at work because of sex.
Someone experiencing workplace harassment might want to discuss the potential of legal action with an attorney. An attorney could evaluate the evidence to see if a case could be built that might withstand defense strategies from the employer or perpetrator. Evidence of mistreatment based on sex, age, disability, pregnancy, race or national origin could entitle the victim to the recovery of damages from the employer. Documentation such as payroll records, internal emails, text messages and witness testimony could be gathered to support the claims of the victim and subsequent damages.