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3rd Circuit Cites #MeToo 'Firestorm' in Reviving Sex Harassment Claim

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Thomas Yadlosky was a hugger, to say the least.

According to allegations in Minarsky v. Susquehanna County, he was also a sexual harasser at work. He allegedly sent Sheri Marinsky sexually explicit email, tried to kiss her on the lips, and embraced her from behind.

She wanted none of it, but didn't complain to her employer. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling in her favor, said it's about #MeToo time.

#MeToo Time

The appeals court said workers who do not report sexual harassment for fear retaliation may still sue later. The unanimous panel said the #MeToo movement has shown that most workplace sexual harassment goes unreported.

Minarsky worked for Yadlosky four years, but did not report his behavior to her supervisor or employer. She was a part-time secretary, and he was the director of the Susequehanna County Department of Veteran Affairs.

Yadlosky had made physical advances to other women on the job -- including his own supervisor. The county ultimately fired Yadlosky, but Minarsky kept her experience largely to herself.

Several years later she quit. She filed a lawsuit, but a trial judge said her long silence was unreasonable and dismissed her complaint on summary judgment grounds.

Fear of Reporting

On appeal, her attorneys argued that she feared reporting the harassment would affect her job. The Third Circuit said that raised questions for a jury.

The appeals court cited studies that more than one-half of American women have experienced unwanted sexual advances from men, and that three out of four women do not report it. The judges said there "may be a certain fallacy that underlies the notion that reporting sexual misconduct will end it."

"Victims do not always view it in this way," they said. "Instead, they anticipate negative consequences or fear that the harassers will face no reprimand; thus, more often than not, victims choose not to report the harassment."

In Minarsky's case, the appeals panel vacated and remanded.

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