Halloween Costume Comes Back to Haunt Woman in Sexual Harassment Case
Siouxsie knows that the costume you wear on Halloween says a lot about you. But Siouxsie isn’t so sure that it says enough to constitute evidence against you in a sexual harassment case. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts disagrees.
Last week, the court ruled that Halloween photographs could be used as evidence against a plaintiff claiming workplace sexual harassment.
In Dahms v. Cognex Corp., Kimberly Dahms brought a sexual harassment case against her employer. Ms. Dahms lost at trial and she appealed. On appeal Ms. Dahms argued, in part, that the trial court erred by admitting evidence as to how she dressed, spoke and conducted herself. The evidence included five photographs of her wearing different costumes at various Halloween parties she attended with co-workers. Her employer described the costumes as “provocative or seductive,” including one that was an allegedly “see-through” Empire State Building costume.
Siouxsie must inform you that the opinion does not include any pictures, so we can only imagine what such a costume would look like.
In any event, the court held that the evidence was proper — not to determine whether Ms. Dahms was a “‘loose’ woman predisposed to welcome any advances” but to determine whether Ms. Dahms had been subjectively offended by the behavior. The distinction is completely lost upon Siouxsie. But so be it.
Siouxsie therefore warns all of you to choose your costume this Halloween with care, for you never know when those photographs will rise from the dead.
You can access the court’s ruling at this link.