Colello v. Bayshore Comm. Health Svcs., No. A-3423-08T1 (App. Div., April 28, 2010) – The plaintiff in this case brought suit for hostile work environment sexual harassment following several incidents with a physician with whom she worked. After he had already made several verbal advances, which the plaintiff rejected, the defendant called her into a meeting where he kissed her on the cheek, told her he loved her and asked her to begin an affair with him. When she tried to escape, the defendant kissed her forcefully, smiled and told her “this is not over.” Two weeks later, the defendant commented on the plaintiff’s appearance and rubbed her back until she walked away.
The Appellate Division determined that summary judgment was inappropriate here, where the defendant acted aggressively and was undeterred by rejection, and where his actions could clearly be viewed as threatening. The court reiterated that the facts must always be viewed through a gender-specific standard in order to determine the impact on a reasonable (in this case) woman’s work environment.