A single mother who suffered from depression was transferred to an office assistant position at a university. The transfer entailed a six-month probationary period. A professor at the university was her supervisor. During the probationary period, the professor sometimes leered at the woman, made sexual comments, and showed her a pornographic Web site. When the woman told the professor that she was not interested, he eventually ceased the activity. The professor also criticized her work and threatened to extend her probationary period. Two months after her probationary period had ended, the woman received a performance appraisal that she viewed as being unjustifiably negative. She believed that the criticism of her work was related to her failure to respond positively to the professor’s sexual overtures and that the way to avoid criticism and keep her job was to go along with him. Shortly thereafter, the professor requested sex from the woman and she complied. The two had sex in the workplace on numerous occasions over the next year. After unsuccessfully attempting to transfer to another position, the woman filed a harassment charge. The university immediately initiated an investigation and placed the woman on paid administrative leave to separate her from the professor. The investigators initially found insufficient evidence of harassment but recommended that the woman be transferred to a different position with a female faculty member as her supervisor. Later, when the woman provided certain physical evidence that she had been withholding, university officials confronted the professor and he resigned.
1. What should the court decide?
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Reference: (Holly D. v. California Institute of Technology, 339 F.3d 1158 [9th Cir. 2003])