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Total Articles: 7

Employer’s “solicitous treatment” of alleged rapist may create a hostile environment for coworker/victim.

Can an employer’s perceived preferential treatment of an alleged rapist create a hostile work environment for the female employee who reported the rape? The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a jury should determine the answer to that question. Fuller v. Idaho Dept. of Corrections, 9th Cir., No. 14-36110, July 31, 2017.

Hugs May Create Hostile Work Environment, 9th Circuit Rules

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that unwelcome workplace hugs may give rise to a sexually hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. A female corrections officer claimed that her male superior hugged her often enough to make her uncomfortable at work. The employer and the co-defendant county sheriff countered that the hugs were completely innocuous and never involved sexual comments or touching.

Hostile Work Environment and Retaliation in the Fourth Circuit, Part II: Recent Decisions Create New Challenges for Employers

Part one of this two-part series discussed the first of two significant rulings issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in May of 2015. The first part focused on Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau Corporation, No. 13-473 (May 7, 2015), in which the Fourth Circuit overruled existing precedent and concluded that an isolated incident of harassment was severe enough to create a hostile work environment. Part two focuses on Foster v. University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, No. 14-1073 (May 21, 2015), in which the Fourth Circuit rejected an argument that the Supreme Court of the United States in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar intended to create a “heightened causation standard” for retaliation claims brought under the burden-shifting McDonnell Douglas framework.

Hostile Work Environment and Retaliation in the Fourth Circuit, Part I: Recent Decisions Create New Challenges for Employers

In May 2015, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which has jurisdiction over federal courts in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) issued two opinions with negative consequences for employers facing claims of hostile work environment or retaliation.

One federal appellate court outlines parameters for "hostile work environment" claim.

One of the issues most frequently litigated in employment cases is whether the remarks and actions of an employer rise to the level of the “hostile work environment” needed to support a claim of discrimination. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed that issue, and provided at least some clarity to the definition, adding its voice to the courts that have held that racial epithets directed at employees other than the plaintiff, and non-racial adverse actions directed at that plaintiff, both can be considered as elements of a hostile work environment if other evidence of racial animus is present. Hernandez v. Valley View Hosp. Assn., 10th Cir., No. 11-1244, June 26, 2012.

Sexual innuendos and demeaning comments cost employer $1.6 Million.

In gender discrimination cases under Title VII, a jury can award back pay and front pay, but also can award compensatory damages if it believes that an employee was harmed emotionally or psychologically by the alleged harassment or hostile work environment. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a $1.6 Million damages award against a Massachusetts hospital and a male physician, and in favor of a female neurosurgeon who claimed hostile work environment and retaliation under Title VII. Tuli v. Brigham & Women’s Hospital, 1st Circ., No. 09-1731, August 29, 2011.

Are Employers Properly Protecting Themselves From Harassment Claims?

Recent harassment cases should serve as a warning to employers regarding the effectiveness of their harassment policies, especially in hostile work environment cases.
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