Insights

Home > News & Insights > Insights > Halloween Costumes May Come Back To Haunt You

Share this on:   a b j c

Halloween Costumes May Come Back To Haunt You

Published by on October 19, 2009

A decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court shows that an inappropriate Halloween constume may come back to haunt you.  The Court affirmed a jury verdict in favor of an employer over the appeal of the plaintiff, who claimed that allowing the jury to see pictures of her Halloween costume was reversible error.  One witness described the […]

A decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court shows that an inappropriate Halloween constume may come back to haunt you.  The Court affirmed a jury verdict in favor of an employer over the appeal of the plaintiff, who claimed that allowing the jury to see pictures of her Halloween costume was reversible error.  One witness described the plaintiff’s costume as a “see-through Empire State Building.”  More after the break (but no visual aids in this post).

The case is DAHMS vs. COGNEX CORPORATION (No. SJC-10348, October 15, 2009).  Courthouse News Service has the story here.  CNS has a copy of the opinion here.  The official version of the opinion can be searched for here.

Although the trial judge permitted the introduction of some evidence regarding the Plaintiff’s language, apparel and conduct, according to the Court, the trial judge did exclude some of the employer’s proposed evidence:

Other evidence of [plaintiff’s] conduct offered by the defendants was properly excluded. For example, on direct examination, Woodyard began to testify about [plaintiff’s] being intoxicated at a 1996 Cognex holiday party. The judge asked for a sidebar, and defense counsel explained that Woodyard would testify that she saw [plaintiff], who appeared intoxicated, in the restroom “stamping herself all over her body with a bingo stamp”; and that she saw [plaintiff] leave the restroom, go over to the bar, and “creat[e] a little bit of a ruckus because the bartender wouldn’t serve her any more alcohol.” After a lengthy sidebar discussion, the judge concluded that the prejudicial impact of the testimony outweighed its value in demonstrating whether [plaintiff] found the work environment to be sexually hostile.

The Court ultimately concluded that the evidence of the plaintiff’s language, apparel, and conduct, as described by co-workers, was probative of whether she was subjectively offended by her work environment or by the alleged harasser’s conduct.

Topics:

Share:   a b j c