Yesterday a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals revived a sexual harassment lawsuit against Yolo County Sheriff Edward G. Prieto, who was charged with hugging a female officer more than 100 times over a 12-year period.
Prieto argued that he also hugged male employees. His lawyers said that if he hugged women more, it was because of "genuine but innocuous differences in the ways men and women routinely interact with members of the same sex and the opposite sex.”
But the 9th Circuit ruled against him, and said that hugging can create an abusive work environment it its unwelcome and pervasive.
The correctional officer who sued Prieto, Victoria Zetwick, also said that he kissed her when congratulating her on her marriage to another deputy.
Zetwick says she saw Prieto give hugs to dozens of other female employees during her 12 years in the department, but gave handshakes to male employees.
The hugs between Zetwick and Prieto were described as brief, and no sexual comments were made.
He didn't touch her in a sexual way, but still Zetwick argued that Prieto's hugs were "chest to breast" with sexual overtones.
How about just don't hug people you work with? Keep the hugs out of the workplace, then we won't have to waste time on this kind of nonsense.