In the second of two recent Title VII harassment cases, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided that a supervisor need not have hiring or firing authority in order to create liability for failing to respond properly to a harassment complaint. Lambert v. Peri Formworks Sys., Inc., Case No. 12-2502 (7th Cir., 7/24/13). The decision comes on the heels of last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that clarified that a supervisor must have authority to make tangible employment decisions, such as hiring, firing and discipline, in order for that supervisor to create strict liability for the employer for his or her own harassing conduct. See [U.S. Supreme Court Defines “Supervisor” Status for Purposes of Assessing Harassment Liability Under Title VII] Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Sexual Harassment Decision Highlights Importance of Employee Training

In a Title VII harassment case, an important preliminary question is whether the individual accused of harassment is the employee’s supervisor, in which case the employer is strictly liable for any harassing conduct that results in a negative employment action, or whether the accused is a non-supervisory co-worker, in which case the employer can avail itself of certain defenses such as implementation of an effective anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure. On June 24, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Vance v. Ball State University, No. 11-556, 570 U. S. __ (2013), which answers the important question of when an employee will be considered a “supervisor” for purposes of assessing Title VII liability for harassment. Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Defines “Supervisor” Status for Purposes of Assessing Harassment Liability Under Title VII