"Employer Liability for Employee Sexual Harassment: A Judicial Policy-Making Study"
Sexual harassment in the workplace is not only a foul and demeaning act toward another person, it is also illegal. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website states that sexual harassment is "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature." However, the law doesn’t forbit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it "creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted)." So, we know that the direct perpetrator can be found liable, but can the employer/company?
This article describes four different court cases involving sexual harasement. (1) Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District: When a teacher employed by a school district engages in sexual misconduct with a student, and the school officials were unaware of any incident, is the district liable? (2) Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc: If a man is sexually harassed by his male boss and male coworker (i.e. same-sex discrimination/harassment), is the employer liable? (3) Burlington Industries v. Ellerth: If a woman is not harmed by the sexual harassment by her male boss, infact had been promoted during the time of the alleged harassment, is the employer liable? (4) Faragher v. City of Boca Raton: If a woman chooses not to report the alleged harassment by a male supervisor and evidence was lacking, is the employer liable?
In the Gebser case, the Supreme Court ruled five to four that the school district was not liable, stating that "... unless an official who at a minimum has authority to address the alleged discrimination and to institute corrective measures on the recipient's behalf has actual knowledge of discrimination in the...