An elderly patient declared incompetent by a state court subjected a nurse to racial slurs and demands for sex. When the nurse complained, the employer asked her to consider the source and not take it personally. The Fifth Circuit found that the conduct was not so severe or pervasive as to interfere with the nurse’s work.
An HR Director was sued individually for sexual harassment. Her employment terminated and a release was signed. Her employer then settled the sexual harassment suit, which was filed against the employer and the HR Director. An Appeals Court in Tennessee found that the release did not extinguish the HR Director’s claim for indemnification to recover her attorneys’ fees since the sexual harassment suit was settled after the release was signed. The Court found that the release did not extinguish future claims, and the claim for indemnification did not arise until the case was settled.
Even if an arbitrator misapplies the law, courts are very reluctant to overturn arbitrators’ awards. An arbitrator in Pennsylvania thought that a pervasive hostile work environment required daily offensive behavior. The fact that a woman was asked for a one night stand, subjected to multiple vulgar and sexually suggestive comments about her body, asked about sexual relations with her fiancéé and grabbed by her supervisor who then peered down her blouse did not create a pervasive sexually hostile work environment in the mind of the arbitrator. Because there was no manifest disregard for the law, a federal district court judge would not overrule the arbitrator.
Public officials can be personally liable for intentional sexual harassment. The Eighth Circuit finds that a supervisor’s reporting to a subordinate’s hotel room in boxer shorts, requests for sexual favors and unwelcome touching justifies a $70,000 verdict against the supervisor.
A male operations manager complained about sexist remarks and implied requests for sex from his female boss after he quit. The Seventh Circuit found that a reasonable person would not have been compelled to quit and that the boss’ statements were not sufficiently severe or pervasive to state a claim. The Court found no “objectively intolerable working environment” and that the comments were not “substantially distressing.”
A raise and promotion because a woman “silently suffered” sexual advances is not a tangible employment action. The employer’s swift corrective action after the woman complained resulted in the dismissal of her case. Her claim that she delayed complaining because she had to collect evidence and determine whether the harasser was simply “interested” or a “predator” did not excuse the delay of her complaint.
A male employee was sexually propositioned and harassed by his gay manager. The employee was subsequently fired. The Seventh Circuit found that since the employer had promulgated a discriminatory harassment policy and provided discriminatory harassment prevention training, there is nothing else the employer could have done since it had no knowledge of the conduct. The employer could therefore not be liable for punitive damages.
A jury found that a Deputy Superintendent for the New York City subway suffered sexual harassment upon hearing that two female cleaners were being harassed, including unwelcome touching and propositions. After the women complained, the Deputy Superintendent experienced a major depressive disorder when her attempt to help the women failed. The Second Circuit reversed the jury verdict finding that the alleged harassment was out of plaintiff’s sight and “regular orbit;” there was no evidence that her working environment was hostile or that the harassment of others adversely affected the terms and conditions of her own employment.
“Georgie Porgie pudding and pie Goosed the men and made them cry Upon the women he laid no hand So it cost his employer 300 grand.” The Sixth Circuit reversed, in part, because “upon the women he laid no hand.” A sexually hostile workplace without any gender discrimination is not actionable.
Ex-lovers whose fighting spills over to the workplace are not typically covered by Title VII, which does not prohibit harassment based on personal animosity. However, the Eleventh Circuit found that “a prior intimate relationship does not give . . . a free pass to harass.” A jury verdict in favor of a female restaurant worker may therefore not be overturned by the district court.