South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Two Causes of Action May Apply to Sex Harassment Case
Description Appeals court held that a woman who contended that she was fired for refusing to submit to repeated sexual advances may sue on the basis of hostile work environment and for discrimination based on an adverse employment action.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Sex Discrimination; Hostile Work Environment; Employment Action
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts From the time Hulsey, age 17, began to work at a Burger King, until she was fired five weeks later, her shift supervisor subjected her to constant physical and verbal sexual harassment. After she rejected all his advances and groping, he fired her. She sued for sexual harassment, which was the first the owner of the franchise knew of a problem. The district court dismissed the suit. Hulsey appealed.

Reversed and remanded. Hulsey has two complaints that should go to trial. First, she has sufficiently established grounds to sue on the basis of hostile work environment. Her boss subjected her to repeated sexual grabbing and to constant verbal abuse. The court will review the totality of the circumstance to see if it rises to the level of a hostile environment. The fact that she did not complain to the owner of the franchise is a matter to be reviewed at trial, where it will be considered if the company had an effective anti-sexual harassment policy in place. Second, Hulsey may sue for adverse employment action-she was fired, she contends, because she rejected her supervisor's advances. Liability for such adverse job action may exist even if the employer had an effective anti-sexual harassment policy in place.

Citation Hulsey v. Pride Restaurants, LLC, 367 F.3d 1238 (11th Cir., 2004)

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