Conrad v. Szabo

In Conrad v. Szabo, 198 W.Va. 362, 480 S.E.2d 801, (1996), the Court expanded on the type of evidence and factual inquiries that are relevant to a sexual harassment case: We said in Hanlon v. Chambers, 195 W.Va. 99, 464 S.E.2d 741 (1995) that hostile environment sexual harassment can occur "when the workplace is infected, for example, by sexual barbs or innuendos, offensive touching, or dirty tricks aimed at the employee because of her gender." . . . The key inquiries are whether the mistreatment was directed at the plaintiff because she was a woman and whether it was of such a nature, because of its seriousness or its pervasiveness, as to ruin the working environment for the plaintiff. . . . "Hostility" in these cases . . . turns on what effect the conduct would have, cumulatively, on a reasonable person. (Id. at 371, 480 S.E.2d at 810.) The Court cautioned circuit courts in Szabo to be judicious about awarding summary judgment in sexual harassment cases, given the presence of factual issues regarding the discriminatory animus of an employer in a sexual harassment case. Assuming evidence of a prima facie case of sexual harassment has been shown, we noted in Szabo that unless "only one conclusion could be drawn from the record in the case," the case presents factual issues which require a jury to resolve. Id. at 370, 480 S.E.2d at 809.