Sexual harassment is an evil in our society. Its basis is subjugating the victim. It is the exercise of dominance over the victim. The act undermines the physical and mental integrity of the victim. The workplace should not be the conduit for such social ills. As such, the law recognizes that an employer will be strictly liable for certain acts of sexual harassment.
Employer’s Strict Liability
An employer is strictly liable for sexual harassment when the harassment is committed by a “supervisory” employee and the supervisor’s harassment culminates in a “tangible employment action.” Thus, there are two important questions. First who is a supervisory employee? Second, what is a tangible employment action?
A “supervisory employee” is one who works closely with his or her subordinates. An employee that has the power to recommend or to otherwise substantially influence employment actions. An employee who can effectuate employment actions.
Tangible Employment Action
A tangible employment action can be a significant change in employment status. These include hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits. An economic harm almost always qualifies as a tangible employment action but economic harm is not necessary in every case. Tangible employment action can also be when a victim’s submission to the unwelcomed sexual harassment is an express or implied condition for receiving a job benefit or avoiding a job determinant.
When sexual harassment is committed by a supervisor which results in a tangible employment action, it makes sense that the law will hold the employer liable. This is because the employer is actually committing the sexual harassment. A business can only act through its agents. And, a supervisor is far enough-up the employment hierarchy to make the entity directly liable.
If you have been a victim of discrimination, harassment, or a hostile work environment, please contact the employment lawyers at LaBar & Adams, P.A. in Orlando at 407-835-8968 or fill out the online form located on our website.