WASHINGTON — A Seattle-based labor & employment attorney warns that just discussing President Donald Trump’s tweets in the office can trigger a lawsuit.
Trump tweeted about MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski “low IQ” and “bleeding from getting a facelift” Thursday after he said that both she and her co-host “Psycho” Joe Scarborough “spoke badly” of him.
Aaron Goldstein, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney, says that just “joking about Trump’s twitter attacks in the workplace could get you sued for sexual harassment.
According to Goldstein, a “four part legal path” exists to determine if something constitutes sexual harassment or not.
“It doesn’t have to be lewd. it can just be directed at a person’s gender. It’s unwelcome. It’s offensive to a reasonable person which is kind of the key here. And it’s either severe or pervasive. And so as a person who’s litigated a lot of these cases before, statements like this a classic type of statement. Repeating something like this that Donald Trump said and laughing about it are the classic type of statements that will kill an employer with a thousand cuts,” Goldstein told The Daily Caller, noting that a potential juror can find something offensive and say that it would be difficult to work in that environment.
Would laughing at a tweet of Donald Trump’s like the one about Brzezinski cause a potential lawsuit?
“Absolutely not. But if you are in a case where you have you know a couple other statements and maybe some bad behavior this is a type of comment that really can push a juror over the edge to go against the employer. And a lot of it depends on geography.”
Goldstein says that the predominantly ideological areas can determine how jurors will decide sexual harassment cases.
“A lot of it depends on geography right. I’m here in Seattle, Washington,” the lawyer said. “You’re judged by a jury of your peers. So when when a court decides whether or not something is ‘offensive’ to a reasonable person, you’re grabbing 12 people off the street and seeing if seven of them agree.”
So should people in an office environment stay clear of not talking about Trump’s most abrasive tweets?
“I think if you talk about Trump’s tweets in a way that could be interpreted as either amusement or support then I do think you risk contributing to a sexual harassment climate. And you know again if you did it once and it was in isolation maybe not,” said Goldstein.
He went on to say, “But none of the sexual harassment claims involve single acts in isolation unless they’re really bad behavior. They really are an accumulation of acts that form a story that this is a hostile work environment. And laughing at a crude Twitter comment by the president and then discussing it in the workplace absolutely contributes to a claim.”
Goldstein added, “I would expect as a defense attorney that if that happened in a workplace of a client that I represented, I would hear about that in the trial by the plaintiff’s counsel and it would get through to the jury.”