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Employers Cannot Turn a Blind Eye to Harassment by Its Customers, Clients or Independent Contractors

By: Heather Kofron In a matter of first impression, the Fourth Circuit recently found in EEOC v. Cromer Food Services, Inc., that the employer had actual or constructive knowledge of harassment of its employee by one of its biggest clients and that the employer failed to take corrective action...

A Quick & Dirty Checklist on Conducting Harassment Investigations

by Vanessa L. Goddard You've heard the expression "The best defense is a good offense." Well, this is very true in the world of harassment law. For our devoted readers of this blog, we know this is preaching to the choir, but it never hurts to make a quick check of your policies...

Employers Cannot “Ostrich” Harassment Allegations

By now, you've likely read or heard about the disturbing sexual abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, Penn State's former defensive coordinator, and the decades-long cover-up perpetrated by the university to protect its storied football program. Of all of the allegations, however, the following...

Clearing a Path to Complain Is a Key Part of Any Harassment Policy

EEOC v. Management Hospitality of Racine, Inc. (7th Cir. 1/9/12) [ an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com subscribers ] concerns some of the worst allegations of sexual harassment you will encounter, especially when you consider that the complaining employees were both teenagers...

Appellate Division Holds That The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination Prohibits Workplace Harassment Based On Perceived Membership In A Protected Group

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. §§ 10:5-1 - 10:5-30 (the "NJLAD"), prohibits employers, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, sexual orientation, genetic information,...

Employer's failure to investigate harassment creates retaliation claim

If an employee complains that her supervisor is sexting her, making unwelcome physical contact, and telling her that she can get a better work schedule in exchange for "small favors," you better damn well investigate that! Ignore it and you risk losing a valuable defense to sexual harassment...

Abandoning job because of harassment does not support retaliation claim, says the 6th Circuit

Last week , I discussed the 6th Circuit's most recent pronouncement on same-sex harassment. I noted that while some would argue the Court's dismissal of the harassment claim is evidence of the need for law against workplace bullying, in reality the Court's dismissal of the retaliation claim...

820,000 reasons to have a social media policy

Yesterday, I read an article entitled, Companies Should Think Twice Before Creating Social Media Policy , which argued that "companies who scrutinize their employees' personal accounts and social media activity may be doing more harm than good." Yet, companies that ignore employees'...

Supreme Court Preview: VanDeusen and Marsh on Vance v. Ball State University

Excerpt: Note: Case links below are accessible by lexis.com subscribers Vance v. Ball State University (lexis.com subscribers may access Supreme Court briefs for this case ) addresses an issue that has split the federal appellate courts in harassment cases: who is a "supervisor" under...

EEOC's "emerging issues": LGBT rights, and accommodations for pregnant women

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued yesterday its draft Strategic Enforcement Plan . If you don't have time to slog through all the introductory material, you won't miss a thing if you skip right to Section III (Priorities). The agency proposes that its priorities will be *Systemic...

2012 SCOTUS Employment Law Preview!

It's here! The new SCOTUS season kicks off today! Let's see what kind of employment law goodies the Court has in store for us (in order of my personal preference): Supervisor Liability In Vance v. Ball State University, the Supreme Court will determine who counts as a supervisor in harassment...

Roundup of Supreme Court employment cases -- right here!

All right, kiddies. My posts over the last few weeks have been juicy and entertaining. (Or as juicy and entertaining as employment law can get.) But summer is over, and it's time to buckle down. The Supreme Court of the United States (aka "SCOTUS") began its new term this past Monday...

If you hire only people you have the hots for, is that sex discrimination?

It's a well-known fact that good-looking people have a better chance of being hired and promoted , and make more money, than less good-looking people. At least, as long as you're not too hot . Generally, there isn't much you can do about it if your opportunities are limited by male pattern...

POLITICS AT WORK: Employer Dos, Don'ts, and Be Very, Very Carefuls

After Tuesday night's rather -- intense -- Presidential debate , it was fun to watch Gov. Romney and President Obama good-naturedly tease each other at the Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner to benefit Catholic Charities of New York. With two and a half weeks to go until election day ( November...

Report Finds Increasing Number of Harassment and Discrimination Complaints by Congressional Employees

The Congressional Office of Compliance recently published a report that shows that the number of harassment and discrimination complaints by Congressional employees has increased over the past five years. The report, entitled "State of the Congressional Workplace," sought to determine...

Supreme Court Hears Supervisor Liability Appeal

WASHINGTON, D.C. - (Mealey's) The "supervisor" liability rule established in Faragher v. City of Boca Raton (524 U.S. 775 [1998]) and Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth (524 U.S. 742 [1998]) should apply to harassment by supervisors even if they have no power to "hire, fire, demote...

Who Is a Supervisor under Title VII? (Vance v. Ball St. Univ.)

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in one of the key employment cases it will hear this term- Vance v. Ball St. Univ. This case asks whether one can qualify as a supervisor under Title VII if one is given any authority to direct and oversee another's daily work, or if supervisory...

Supervisor Liability – SCOTUS Oral Argument for Vance v. Ball State

I will wait to draft the detailed post once the Supreme Court has actually ruled, but for those who are following SCOTUS oral arguments, one of the big employment cases of this term was heard on Nov. 25. Here is what you need to know about Vance v. Ball State : The issue is whether the "supervisor"...

Employer’s “Shockingly Thin” Response to Anonymous Harassment = $3.5 Million in Punitive Damages

The recent reinstatement of a $3.5 million award of punitive damages by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit highlighted the importance of responding promptly, thoroughly and fairly to employee complaints of harassment, even where the harassers are unknown. It also serves as...

Split Supreme Court Narrows Definition of ‘Supervisor’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - (Mealey's) An employer is vicariously liable for an employee's harassment only if that employee is given the power by the employer "to take tangible employment actions against the victim," a split U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 24, rejecting the Equal Employment...

Vance v. Ball St. Narrows Employer Liability for Harassment

In its prologue to yesterday's Supreme Court opinion in Vance v. Ball. St. Univ. [pdf] [ an enhanced version of this opinion is available to lexis.com subscribers ], Justice Alito, writing for the five-member majority, frames the importance of the issue facing the Court: Under Title VII, an...