Image of Can a single incident of harassment suffice to establish liability?

Can a single incident of harassment suffice to establish liability?


Yes, a single act of severe harassment can be actionable in certain, limited circumstances.  Examples include:

  • female supervisor grabbed waiter’s penis through his pockets;
  • use of racial epithet such as “ni[**]er”;
  • deliberate and unwanted touching of plaintiff’s intimate body parts (for example, where a supervisor shoved employee’s face against his crotch); and
  • an extended barrage of obscene verbal abuse.

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Jason Zuckerman, Principal of Zuckerman Law, litigates whistleblower retaliation, qui tam, wrongful discharge, and other employment-related claims. He is rated 10 out of 10 by Avvo, was recognized by Washingtonian magazine as a “Top Whistleblower Lawyer” in 2015 and selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® and in SuperLawyers.

Eric Bachman litigates employment discrimination and whistleblower retaliation cases. He can be reached at (202) 769-1681 and [email protected]. Bachman is Chair of the discrimination and retaliation Practices at Zuckerman Law. Previously, Bachman served as Special Litigation Counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and a Deputy Special Counsel with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.