Employer Responsible For Customer Harassment Of Its Employee

In a significant ruling for employers everywhere, and particularly those in the Fourth Circuit, which includes Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, the Fourth Circuit just held that a black female who was subjected to offensive conduct by a customer should have her Title VII harassment claims decided by a jury. With its decision in Freeman v. Dal-Tile Corp., No. 13-1481 (4th Cir. April 29, 2014), the Fourth Circuit...
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Prompt Handling Of Sex Harassment Complaint Keeps Safeway Safe

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
02/18/2014
Employers are very familiar with the legal requirement and legal advice to take prompt action to investigate and respond properly to complaints of workplace harassment.   In a recent decision issued from the federal district court in Arizona last week, Safeway's prompt and effective handling of a teen-aged cashier's complaint of sexual harassment precluded a liability finding against the supermarket chain. In McCormack v. Safeway Stores, Inc., No....
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Maryland Court Allows Sex Harassment Claim Against Ledo's Pizza to Proceed

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
01/02/2014
Just prior to Christmas, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland denied in part a motion to dismiss filed by Ledo’s Pizza & Pasta and permitted a 16 year old  plaintiff  to move forward on her sexual harassment claims, but not her claims of disparate treatment and national origin discrimination. Lopez v. BMA Corp., No. DKC 13-2406, 2013 BL 354687 (D. Md. Dec. 24, 2013). Plaintiff Rosa Lopez filed suit as parent and...
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Employee Who Was Repeatedly Sniffed by Co-Workers and Fired For Swatting a Fly May Bring Retaliation Claim

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
11/26/2013
Accusations of coworkers repeatedly “sniffing and hovering.”  An employee terminated allegedly because she slammed a door and “swatted a fly harder than necessary.”  Sounds like a great place to work, doesn’t it?  This is the alleged work environment in a recent lawsuit decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Royal v. CCC&R Tres Arboles, LLC,  No. 12-11022 (5th Cir. Nov. 21, 2013). Tonia Royal worked as...
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No Sex Harassment Liability When Female Prison Guard Exposed to Prisoners' Display of Sexual Materials

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
11/25/2013
Is a correctional facility where inmates (but not employees) openly display sexually suggestive materials in violation of the facility’s policies a hostile work environment for a correctional officer?   No, according to a November 20, 2013 ruling by the Eastern District of California.  Daniels v. Cal. Dep’t of Corr. & Rehab., No. 2:10-cv-00003-MCE-AC (E.D. Cal. Nov. 20, 2013). The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Maria Aguilar, worked for the...
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So You Think Your Boss is Strange? Check This Out ...

On October 16, 2013, a  federal court in Alabama dismissed a sex discrimination claim brought by a female manager who alleged she was unfairly disciplined for sexual harassment while her male co-workers  were allowed  to get away with such behavior. Meyer v. Lincare, Inc. (M.D. Ala. 10/16/13).   The court found that there was no evidence of disparate treatment because the male comparator she identified   was not a manager, nor had he engaged in...
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Male Employee Who Wears “Girly” Shirts May Have Sexual Harassment Claim

A federal district court in California recently held that a male state investigator teased for wearing “girly” clothes stated a claim of sex-based harassment in violation of Title VII and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.  Felix v. Calif. Dep’t of Developmental Servs., No. 1:13-cv-00561 (E.D. Cal. July 12, 2013).  Robert Felix worked as a special investigator at a California state agency.  In April 2013, Felix and his fellow...
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Employee Who Refused To Cooperate In Employer’s Investigation Cannot Recover For Sexual Harassment

Randi Klein Hyatt
Randi Klein Hyatt
06/05/2013
The Fourth Circuit recently dismissed the sexual harassment claim of an employee who brought a vague complaint of “horrible” conduct to her human resources department, but refused to cooperate in her employer’s efforts to investigate.  Crockett v. Mission Hosp. Inc., No. 12-1910 (4th Cir. May 30, 2013). Stephanie Crockett worked for Mission Hospital as a radiologic technologist.  Her supervisor, Harry Kemp, issued her a final warning for...
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No Employer Liability For Sexual Harassment If Employee Doesn’t Complain About Sex-Based Conduct

A federal appeals court recently held that an employer was not liable for sexual harassment to an employee who complained only about harassment, not sex-based harassment.  Medina-Rivera v. MVM Inc., No. 11-2419 (1st Cir. April 10, 2013). In 2008, Estrella Medina-Rivera worked as a part-time detention officer for MVM, Inc., a security company in Puerto Rico.  In October 2008, Medina complained to her supervisor that an unnamed federal agent with...
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Fourth Circuit Limits Scope of EEOC Charge

Under Title VII, an employee suing for discrimination or retaliation must first file an administrative charge of discrimination with the EEOC or a state or local fair employment practices agency.  The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that the employer is put on notice of the allegations, and that the administrative agency is given a chance to investigate, before an employee pursues the case in court.  Because of this requirement, one issue...
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