Sexual favoritism in the workplace is okay.

It’s a pretty shocking statement that sexual favoritism in the workplace is permissible. An employee could receive favoritism from a supervisor or other higher authority based on a sexual relationship amongst the two. This also means that anyone else who isn’t having sexual relations with high ups, doesn’t get to get any extras for their work.

Is it illegal to fire an employee for reporting a supervisor’s affair with a subordinate? The answer is probably not because the EEOC does not consider isolated incidents of “sexual favoritism” to be violations of Title VII. While coerced sexual conduct by a supervisor may constitute quid pro quo harassment and “widespread favoritism” may give rise to a hostile work environment claim, but isolated instances of favoritism towards a paramour are not prohibited. An isolated instance of favoritism toward a “paramour” (or a spouse, or a friend) may be unfair, but it does not discriminate against women or men in violation of Title VII, since both are disadvantaged for reasons other than their genders.

The next question would be “what is “widespread favoritism”? Generally, it means more than one affair in the workplace resulting in greater opportunities for paramours. The EEOC, and many state and federal courts, have determined that “widespread favoritism” communicates to all female employees that they can obtain job benefits only by acquiescing in sexual conduct.

If favoritism based upon the granting of sexual favors is widespread in a workplace, both male and female colleagues who do not welcome this conduct can establish a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII regardless of whether any objectionable conduct is directed at them and regardless of whether those who were granted favorable treatment willingly bestowed the sexual favors.

If you have a hostile work environment claim based on sexual favoritism, contact the Harman Firm for a consultation.