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Male Worker Whose Nipple Was Allegedly Squeezed by Boss Lacks Harassment Claim

Bloomberg BNA, December 2, 2014

A male former sales employee for an Arkansas tobacco products manufacturer who alleged that his male supervisor squeezed his nipple can't proceed to trial on a Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act sexual harassment claim, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled Dec. 2 (Rickard v. Swedish Match N. Am., Inc., 8th Cir., No. 13-3729, 12/2/14). Affirming summary judgment for Swedish Match North America Inc., the Eighth Circuit found that Donald Rickard failed to show that his supervisor's alleged actions, which also included rubbing a towel on his crotch before giving it to Rickard, were based on sex or motivated by sexual desire. The appeals court also affirmed summary judgment for Swedish Match on Rickard's hostile work environment claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Although Rickard, who retired at age 55, offered evidence that the same supervisor called him an “old man” and told him he had “a lot of age on [him],” the court held that those comments were not sufficiently severe to affect a term, condition or privilege of Rickard's employment. In order to prevail on a Title VII sexual harassment claim, the court explained, Rickard must show that the purported offensive conduct of his supervisor, Perry Payne, either was motivated by sexual desire or demonstrated a “general hostility” toward males in the workplace.

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