Can Lunch Invitations Be Considered Sexual Harassment? By Dan Atkerson on May 15, 2015

The Texas Supreme Court recently reversed a jury decision awarding $1 million to a San Antonio woman who claimed to have suffered workplace retaliation. The woman, an employee with the San Antonio Water System, heard frequently from colleagues that the newly-hired vice president was making them uncomfortable by repeatedly asking two female employees to lunch with him. The plaintiff in the case counseled the vice president to stop him from asking the women out, stating that the action could be construed as inappropriate.

Two years later, the woman was assigned to a position subordinate to the vice president. Shortly after, her position was eliminated. The woman believed she had been terminated because she had counseled her boss two years prior.

A jury found that the plaintiff had suffered workplace retaliation and awarded her a substantial amount in damages. The Supreme Court of Texas reversed the decision, concluding that the lunch invitations were not acts of sexual harassment under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.

What Should You Take from This Case as an Employee?

For a statutory sexual harassment claim to hold any water, it is not enough to prove that you found an act of alleged harassment offensive. Harassment is only actionable when it is so severe or pervasive that it changes the conditions of a worker’s employment and creates an abusive environment. Isolated incidents will typically go nowhere in a discrimination case unless they are extremely serious.

If you have suffered sexual harassment at work, you should speak with an employment law attorney. A legal professional can help determine if the harassment you suffered is severe or pervasive enough to warrant a lawsuit.

Atkerson LawDallas Employment Law Attorney


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Dan Atkerson

Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Dan A. Atkerson has been protecting the rights of North Texas employees for over nearly four decades. He is affiliated with several prestigious legal organizations, including: 

  • The State Bar of Texas
  • The Dallas Bar Association
  • The United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit
  • Texas Supreme Court and all Texas trial and appellate courts
  • Texas federal courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas

Through aggressive, knowledgeable representation, he has helped clients all over the state reach significant verdicts and settlements. To schedule a consultation at our law firm, request an appointment online or call us at (214) 383-3606.

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