Yes, sexual harassment cases are often rejected by the courts, i.e., by the judges. Over the past several years, the courts have developed a test for just how bad the harassment is (or is not). The legal term is “severe or pervasive.” The harassment must be severe or pervasive. See my prior posts here and here. In the Sanders v. Christus Santa Rosa, the district judge even comments in his opinion that the Fifth Circuit seems to be counting the number of incidents within a certain amount of time. In the Sanders case, the judge denied the motion for summary judgment, but the plaintiff later lost her case in front of the jury.

Sociology professor Sandra Sperino read through some 1,000 sexual harassment cases, apparently filed in federal court. She says only 3-6% ever make it to trial. See NPR news report. Another researcher for the American Bar Foundation looked at a random sampling of sexual harassment cases and found that 37% were dismissed before trial. About half settled, Laura Beth Nielsen added. Some judges dismiss the claim if there was no skin on skin contact. One plaintiff endured some 24 taunts and thinly veiled invitations over ten days. The judge said it only lasted ten days and was not, therefore, severe or pervasive. Ms. Nielsen found only 2% of plaintiffs proceed to win their sexual harassment trials.

The report indicates about one-half of all women in the work place endure some form of sexual harassment. But, only 5-15% report the behavior.