Halloween Costume Comes Back to Haunt Woman in Sexual Harassment Case

Photo Credit:  James Trosh

Photo Credit: James Trosh

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.

~ by siouxsielaw on October 26, 2009.

12 Responses to “Halloween Costume Comes Back to Haunt Woman in Sexual Harassment Case”

  1. […] * You never know when your Halloween costume will come back to haunt you. [Siouxsie Law] […]

  2. What’s saucy for the goose is saucy for the gander?

  3. Wow, the court really erred by letting in evidence presented by the plaintiff’s own lawyer! Clearly you didn’t read the ruling, otherwise you would have noticed that Dahm’s own attorney was the first to introduce Dahm’s Halloween photos at trial in connection with the cross-examination of one of her bosses, asking him, “These are the costumes you complained were too provocative or seductive, right?”

  4. I would love to see such costume. Also, love the picture accompanying the post with the picture of the ESB with the, ahem, bush at the bottom.

  5. […] Halloween Costume comes back to haunt a woman in a sexual harrassment suit:  Yes, take note ladies!   We all know that Halloween brings out the risque dressing in us–apparently. […]

  6. […] the full blog posting click here. For the ruling click […]

  7. Hm, makes sense. I like your form of writing, its different, in a good way.

  8. I call shenanigans. I was *at* the party in question. Yes, Kim’s costume was of the Empire State Building… and it was made of CARDBOARD. It was so NOT see-through, I didn’t even realize that there was a woman inside, never mind someone I knew. Further, Kim was nominated for a ‘Best Costume’ award at the party… and Shillman announced her nomination, in front of the whole company, with the comment “Kim Dahms as the Empire State Building! Who wouldn’t want to climb up THAT?!?” The rest is left as an exercise to the reader.

    • The description of the costume is taken from the court’s opinion, probably the product of one of the attorneys. Your comment would be more helpful with pictures. Thanks for reading.

  9. […] Dahms v. Cognex,  Corp. —   photograph of plaintiff in a sexy Halloween costume admissible in a sexual harassment case to show whether she had been offended by the harassing behavior […]

  10. […] 2.  If you are like me, then you are already planning out your Halloween costume and party schedule.  Be careful, because what you wear on Halloween could come back to haunt you in court.  The link to that post is here. […]

  11. […] 1.    Make sure the costume guidelines fit with the company dress code and culture. The workplace is not an appropriate venue suggestive or provocative costumes. Sexual harassment happens in many ways, including visual exposure, which means that it is a good policy to review dress code before feathers get ruffled at Halloween work parties. […]

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