Management’s Negligence Not Enough for Punitive Damages

By Joseph Hunt The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed a jury award of punitive damages under Title VII because the plaintiff had not established the employer acted with malice or reckless indifference. The Court held that a plaintiff must show culpability beyond mere negligence at the management level in order to hold the […]

Personal Journal May Be Protected Activity

By Alyssa L. Levy In Fischer v. Sentry Ins. A Mutual Co., an employee kept a log of when she felt sexually harassed or discriminated against by her employer. The log went missing shortly before the company fired her. In her retaliation complaint, the employee essentially asked the Court to infer her employer was aware […]

Is “Employee” Written in the Cards?

By Alyssa Levy A federal jury will decide whether a tarot card reader who performed at the Colorado Renaissance Festival for thirty years is a Title VII employee for purposes of her retaliation claim. Plaintiff claims that she was not invited back for the 2016 season in retaliation for her complaint of sexual harassment. Plaintiff’s […]

Employee’s Personal Notes Lead to Trial

By Lindsay H.S. Hesketh A correctional officer will be going to trial against her former employer in the District of Arizona on hostile work environment claims.  The plaintiff alleged multiple instances of harassment, including being the target of crude comments, having to listen to sexually explicit stories, and being sexually assaulted in her car by […]

The Importance of Reporting Procedures

By Matthew Hesketh Employee Handbooks should have procedures for reporting harassment, and employers should take prompt remedial action once the procedures are initiated by an employee.  Employers who take such action may escape Title VII liability even in cases where an employee can show harassment.  That’s the lesson from a District Court decision last month […]

Get Your Story Straight!

By Alyssa Levy An employer’s facts in an investigation did not match those it reported to the EEOC in response to the same allegations. The employer created its own factual discrepancy, and based on the discrepancy, the 7th Circuit reversed the employer’s summary judgment.  In this case, the Plaintiff reported to Human Resources that a […]

Wholesale Harassment

By Joe Hunt A customer at a members-only wholesale club frightened an employee with his constant attention. He asked personal questions, repeatedly asked her out and offered his phone number, touched her face while he asked about darkness under her eyes, tried to hug her twice, and filmed her with his cell phone.  When she […]

#MeToo Impacts Harassment Damages/Taxes

By Mike Dubetz and Steve Miller The recently-enacted Tax Cut and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) includes an unheralded change to the tax law that will directly affect sexual harassment settlements.  As a direct result of the recent highly-publicized cases involving sexual harassment of employees, a new provision (Section 162(q)) has been added to the […]

Update Faragher-Ellerth Policies

By Bill Wright An employer recently found itself in a Catch-22 over treatment allegedly suffered by a transgender employee.  The employee claims that she suffered harassment at the hands of her employer by being restricted in the use of restrooms, among several other claims.  As relevant here, the employer raised the Faragher-Ellerth defense that the […]

Respond to Employee Restraining Orders

By Bill Wright An employer will face a trial on whether it negligently supervised an employee’s co-worker.  The two workers had a relationship that ended when the man sexually assaulted the woman in her home.  After trips to the emergency room and the police (resulting in a criminal assault charge for the man), the employee […]