BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A recent ruling by the U.S. Federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal has huge ramifications for the business community. The judges ruled that same sex harassment in the work place falls on the shoulders of the company; much the same way as male/female harassment is defined. This ruling paves the way for people who have been harassed to get their cases in front of a jury.
"Well it's going to allow plaintiffs a better chance to succeed at trial," says attorney Winston Decuir, Jr. "The effect of the ruling is that the fifth circuit has recognized that the plaintiff can succeed in a same sex sexual harassment case where it's likely fewer of these cases will be dismissed on early motions and more of these cases will proceed to trial stage."
Matt Patterson is an advocate for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender organization. He says the ruling will open doors previously not allowed. "I would say the decision by the fifth circuit reached is great," says Patterson. "It's definitely an affirmation of anybody's right to work in a place that is free of harassment and discrimination regardless of the sex of either the target or perpetrator of harassment."
Patterson is hopeful the state of Louisiana will fall in line with the federal decisions. "What will be interesting to see in the future is what state courts do with this ruling...the fifth circuit is not binding on them but they do look to that for guidance and I think there is even some stuff in the statutes about interpreting state laws in laws in light of what title seven provides," says Patterson.