Sexual Harassment

“Caring Supervisor” or Sexual Harassment?

Posted on August 2, 2017

The Situation: A supervisor has a history of making some inappropriate statements to a female employee under his direction, including commenting on her physical appearance.  When the female employee ends up facing possible disciplinary action, the supervisor meets with her.  He puts his hand on hers, tells her he doesn’t want to lose her and says he hopes they can work something out to keep her.  Could this be quid pro quo sexual harassment?…

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Is it Retaliation to Fire A Supervisor For a Fabricated Sexual Harassment Report?

Posted on June 28, 2017

The Situation: One of your supervisors reports that another employee has been sexually harassing several women working under him. Your HR director interviews each of these women and none back up this story. You then terminate the reporting supervisor based on her false report. Is this retaliation in violation of Title VII?…

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Can Firing an Employee for a False Sexual Harassment Claim Be Considered Retaliation?

Posted on February 15, 2017

The Situation: An employee lodges a number of complaints against a certain supervisor, claiming that he has made some offensive and inappropriate remarks of a sexual nature.  You interview some of the other employees who were purportedly present when these statements were made and none of them back up the complaining employee’s story. The supervisor also denies making the statements. You terminate the employee who made the complaints on the grounds that she has intentionally falsified a claim of harassment, in violation of your anti-harassment policy.  Can you face a claim of retaliation?…

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Customer’s Sexual Harassment of Employee—Could You be Liable?

Posted on January 4, 2017

The Situation: A female employee complains about a particular customer’s conduct—specifically complaining about some unwelcome touching, some sexually inappropriate statements, and stalking-type behavior.  What are you obligated to do?  If you don’t take sufficient action, can that employee bring a claim against you under Title VII?…

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Use of Staffing Companies and Joint Employer Status

Posted on July 27, 2016

The Situation: Your company has a contract with a staffing company whereby the staffing company provides you with employees for particular positions.  These contract employees enter into employment agreements with the staffing company.  These employment agreements specifically state that if a company contracting with the staffing company to provide services asks that the employee be removed from the site based on dissatisfaction with his or her performance, the staffing company has the right to terminate the employment agreement.  One of your contract employees working for you through the arrangement with the staffing company claims that another employee has sexually harassed her.  You investigate and end up firing the alleged offender, but also ask the staffing company to remove the complaining contracting employee from the site.  Can you face liability under Title VII as a joint employer?…

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Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars and Agreement to Provide Future Training To Settle One of EEOC’s First Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuits

Posted on July 20, 2016

The Situation: One of your supervisors regularly makes jokes about the sexual orientation of one of your female employees—along the lines of how he would like to turn her back into a woman and how she would look good in more feminine attire.  She complains about the supervisor’s comments.  If she is subsequently fired, could you face a retaliation claim under Title VII?…

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Jezebel Comment Leads to Hostile Work Environment Claim

Posted on July 13, 2016

The Situation: During the interview of a prospective new employee, one of your male supervisors comments on a female employee’s attractiveness.  After the employee is hired, the same supervisor repeatedly and frequently comments on the employee’s appearance and attire.  The supervisor then begins calling her a Jezebel.   She quits, citing the problem with the supervisor as the reason. Could you be facing a claim of hostile work environment?…

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Does Harassment Based on Sexual Orientation Count as Sex Discrimination?

Posted on March 9, 2016

The Situation: One of your supervisors has been making offensive comments to a gay employee about his sexual orientation fairly frequently.   The employee complains to you, but you don’t take it seriously and thus, don’t take any action.  The employee then quits.  Could you face a possible claim under Title VII?…

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Can an employee make a wrongful discharge claim on the grounds that she was forced to quit?

Posted on April 24, 2015

Perhaps so-in a recent decision from the federal court in the Western District of Virginia, the court, anticipating how the Supreme Court of Virginia would rule on this issue, found that a plaintiff may be able to state a claim of wrongful discharge against his or her employer even where he or she resigned if his or her working conditions were intolerable and the termination was in violation of the clear and unequivocal public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Faulkner v. Dillon, et al., Case No.: 1:14cv00081 (March 23, 2015).…

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Tenth Circuit Tackles Supervisor Issue

Posted on February 28, 2014

In Vance v. Ball State Univ., 133 S.Ct. 2434, 2441 (2013), the Supreme Court resolved a conflict among the circuits regarding what level of authority a harasser must have in order to qualify as a supervisor under Title VII in the context of a claim of sexual harassment.  However, there remain questions as to how to apply the Supreme Court’s directive in Vance.  Just this week, the Tenth Circuit addressed some of these issues in Kramer v. Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office, et al., No. 12-4058 (February 25, 2014), finding that a bailiff’s immediate supervisor who had engaged in egregious acts of sexual harassment toward her could be a supervisor under Title VII.…

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