Don’t Shrug Off the Hug

March 23, 2017  |  From HRCalifornia Extra

By now, all employers should understand that groping or sexually propositioning an employee is unlawful, but what about subtler forms of harassment? How do you know when behavior crosses the line? What about hugs at work? When is a hug innocuous, and when is it offensive?

In a recent case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a jury should decide whether a male sheriff’s hugging of a female employee crossed the line to unlawful harassment. The Ninth Circuit ruled that, in some circumstances, hugging can create a hostile work environment when it is unwelcome and pervasive (Zetwick v. County of Yolo, 2017 WL 710476 (2017)).​

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