SW Legal studies in Business

Company Harassment Policy And Action Defeats Suit for Sexual Harassment
Description Appeals court affirmed a ruling in favor of an employer sued for sexual harassment. The harassment did occur, but the employee did not take advantage of a clear company policy about reporting such matters.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Sex Discrimination; Harassment; Company Policy
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Barrett was harassed by her supervisor, Ramsey, who propositioned her, grabbed her, kissed her, and made offensive, vulgar and threatening comments to her. Barrett told some other employees about this matter, but did not report it to any managers. ARECO's policy prohibits all forms of harassment, which Ramsey's behavior clearly was. The policy stated that harassment should be reported to a manager so that the matter could be dealt with in a confidential manner. Barrett knew about the policy and signed a form that acknowledged that she had received a copy of the policy. Managers became suspicious about Ramsey and had him investigated by an outside firm, which confirmed his behavior. He was immediately fired. Barrett then sued ARECO for harassment. The jury found in her favor and awarded her $5,000. The judge overturned the verdict as a matter of law. Barrett appealed.
Decision Affirmed. ARECO exercised reasonable care in preventing and promptly correcting sexually harassing behavior. Barrett's failure to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the employer for correcting workplace harassment precluded her action. There is no evidence that the policy was adopted in bad faith or was defective. ARECO is not liable for not having dismissed Ramsey before it did since the company took remedial action as soon as it had information about the matter.
Citation Barrett v. Applied Radiant Energy Corporation, 240 F.3d 262 (4th Cir., 2001)

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