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Plaintiff Discomfort After On-The-Job Sexual Harassment Deemed Non-Actionable
Description Employee complained of sexual harassment by co-worker, who was warned he would be fired if there were any more incidents. There were no further incidents, but the woman was uncomfortable knowing the man was around. She said she could not work there if he remained, which he did, so she quit. Claim of sex discrimination against her employer dismissed.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Sexual Harassment, Respondeat Superior
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Leanna B. was employed as an aide at a Parke nursing home. Malcom was a janitor at Parke, which was aware that he had a history of substance abuse. He made unwanted sexual advances to Leanna B., who reported the incidents to her supervisor. The supervisor changed Malcom’s work schedule to minimize contact with Leanna B. and asked other workers to help keep an eye out. Later, Leanna B. reported that Malcom grabbed her breasts and asked her for a date. When Malcom was confronted by a supervisor, he denied all charged. He was told he would be fired if there were any further incidents. Although Malcom did not bother her again, she said she could not keep working at Parke if he was still there. The administrator told her the steps she had taken and that nothing else would be done at this point. If Leanna B. was unhappy, she would have to quit. She quit and sued for sexual harassment based on hostile work environment. Trial court held for Parke. Leanna B. had failed to show that Parke could be liable under the respondeat superior doctrine. She appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The district court erred when it found that Parke would not be liable under the respondeat superior doctrine. In cases of sexual harassment by a co-worker, the employer’s liability is direct. Leanna B. was a member of a protected class, she was subject to unwelcome sexual harassment, and the harassment was based on her sex. However, she must also show that the harassment interfered with her work and created a hostile environment and that Park "knew or should have known of the charged sexual harassment and failed to implement prompt and appropriate corrective action." Parke obviously knew about Leanna B’s complaints, but there were no witnesses and Malcom denied her claims. The action required depends on the circumstances. Parke’s actions were prompt and appropriate. Leanna B. could not force Parke to fire Malcom.
Citation Blankenship v. Parke Care Centers, --- F.3d --- (1997 WL 475867, 6th Cir.)
or
123 F.3d 868 (6th Cir., 1997)

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