If you start a sexual harassment case, the way that you viewed the events as they happened could have a massive impact on the outcome of that case. It’s not always simply the facts of what happened that define how the court rules, but how you reacted to them.
In one case, for example, a woman was hired as a police officer. A man who was already on the force was given the task of training her. Their relationship evolved to the point where sexually explicit messages were being sent back and forth.
The man’s wife found out about these messages and the man and woman stopped sending them. Later, the woman was fired for an unrelated incident, and she sued for sexual harassment.
For the outside, it looked like an easy case. Someone who outranked her had sent her explicit messages and she’d later been fired. However, she did not win her lawsuit.
The reason that the court gave was essentially that she had never felt like his messages were harassment until his wife found out about them and put an end to the relationship. Then she claimed that they were, but the court did not think she saw them that way. They felt she had only claimed they were harassment to protest the firing, not because she felt they created a toxic work environment.
Of course, this is just one example. You could make the argument, in some cases, that a superior may have such power over other employees that they would not react as expected to harassment, but would go along with it to protect their jobs.
What this case really shows you, then, is that it’s very important to understand your rights and exactly what legal steps you need to take.