In a June 2004 decision by the
U.S. Supreme Court, Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders,
it is now easier for employees to sue for monetary damages when they are
sexually harassed at work.
In its decision, the
Supreme Court held that employees who
quit because working conditions are intolerable due to sexual harassment will be
treated as if they had been fired, i.e., wrongfully terminated.
On a positive note, both the U.S. Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court
have recently issued opinions making it easier for employers to avoid paying
damages when an employee fails to report sexual harassment. To avoid damages,
employers (including associations with employees and management companies) must
create and maintain sexual harassment reporting procedures. These procedures,
among other things, must identify who is responsible for handling sexual
harassment complaints and the information must be distributed to all existing
and newly hired employees.
Plaintiffs do not necessarily need to show a loss
of advancement, retaliation, or loss of income to bring an action against
an employer. All they need to show is the nature of the sexual conduct
that caused them to experience discrimination. As a result, it is especially
important for associations and management companies to have written policies against sexual harassment
in their employee handbooks, and to make sure their supervisors undergo
some training to avoid even the appearance of harassment. Employers are
especially vulnerable when there is dating between supervisors and subordinates
and safeguards need to be installed to protect the employer from potential
Sexual Harassment Training.
Since employers are generally liable for sexual
harassment committed by supervisors whether or not the harassment is reported by
the employee, all supervisors should attend some form of sexual harassment
: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us
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