South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Sales Clerk at Sex Shop Could Suffer Sexual Harassment
Description Appeals court upheld a claim of sexual harassment by a sales clerk at an adult sex-products shop who claimed that he was subjected to a hostile work environment by his supervisor because of the treatment he suffered related to use of sex products.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Sexual Harassment; Hostile Work Environment
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Briseno worked as a sales clerk at Diamond Adult World, which sold sex-related products. He was fired after four weeks because, his supervisor testified, she did not think he could get along with the other employees, he did not fill out required forms, and he did not fit in because he was heterosexual while most other employees were homosexual. Briseno claimed that he was required to have his photograph taken in a sex “harness,” was spanked with a “horse riding crop” when he failed to operate the cash register properly, and was led around the store on a leash once. Briseno said he tolerated these activities because he was afraid of losing his job. His employer denied his claims of a hostile environment. The jury awarded Briseno $10,608 in damages and $19,123 in attorney fees. Defendant appealed.

Affirmed. There was sufficient evidence at trial to support a determination that Briseno was subjected to a hostile work environment, as required to support a claim for sexual harassment. “We look at the totality of the circumstances to determine whether there was a pattern of continuous, pervasive sexual harassment.” Plaintiff established that defendant’s conduct interfered with a reasonable employee’s work performance, affected his psychological well being, and caused him to be offended.

Citation Briseno v. Diamond Video World, Inc., 2002 WL 990626 (Ct. App., Calif., 2002)

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