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No Liability for Employer Who Allowed Sexual Harassment to be Reported
Description Appeals court dismissed defamation claim against employer, based on respondeat superior, for accepting a report of sexual harassment filed against a supervisor who was fired for harassing a subordinate.
Topic Torts
Key Words Defamation, Sexual Harassment, Respondeat Superior
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Maimonides Medical Center fired Rausman after investigating a sexual harassment complaint filed against him by Baugh, an employee under his supervision. Rausman sued Baugh and Maimonides for defamation for asserting that the sexual harassment had occurred. The trial court dismissed the claims against Maimonides except the count that it could be liable on the theory of respondeat superior. Maimonides appealed the failure to dismiss all counts.
Decision Suit dismissed. "By merely developing a policy, and a manual, along with seminars and procedures to discourage and deal with sexual harassment at its workplace, Maimonides did not open itself up to liability for defamation based on one employee's statements about another." "Although New York courts, in sexual harassment cases, fully recognize the potential liability of an employer who condones a hostile work environment, we know of no decision in which the doctrine of respondeat superior has been invoked ... so as to impose that theory of liability on an employer for an employee's allegedly false accusation of sexual harassment...."
Citation Rausman v. Baugh, --NYS2d-- (1998 WL 823577, Sup. Ct., App. Div., NY)
682 N.Y.S.2d 42 (Sup. Ct., App. Div., N.Y., 1998)

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