South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Victim of Sexual Harassment Could Bring Tort Action Against Harassing Supervisor
Description South Carolina high court held that a sexual harassment victim, who suffered physical abuse and constant pressure, could sue in tort rather than bring a Title VII sex discrimination claim, and that her supervisor was not immune from personal liability.
Topic Torts
Key Words Outrage; Sexual Harassment; Immunity
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts When Frazier worked as a teacher at a public school she claimed she was subjected to a year of sexual harassment by Badger, her supervisor, who constantly pressed her for sexual favors and grabbed her numerous times. She suffered physical and mental problems as a result of the harassment. She sued Badger for the tort of outrage and was awarded $200,000 actual damages and $200,000 punitive damages. Badger appealed, contending that he was immune from suit as a government supervisor and that Frazier should have brought a Title VII claim for sexual discrimination, rather than a tort claim.

Affirmed. Badger is not immune from tort actions that stem from his conduct within the scope of his official duties. The Tort Claims Act specifically excludes acts that were not official duties, which these were not. The Act does not protect defendants who use their authority to abuse others. While Frazier could have filed a suit for sex discrimination, she also has the option to bring a tort suit. The decision of the jury stands.

Citation Frazier v. Badger, --- S.E.2d --- (2004 WL 2157459, Sup. Ct., S.C., 2004)

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