When it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace, Indiana employees are urged to not only express their discomfort for these situations but to take up their complaints to their employers. That’s because, in states across the nation, employers can be held liable if they do not take reasonable action against employees who are found to have sexual harassed another employee.
Some of our Indiana readers may have seen this play out in one specific 7th Circuit court case recently where the court ordered a sexual harassment case to be reheard, potentially as a result of the important decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning supervisors.
As many of our readers may remember from several past posts, the case before the U.S. Supreme Court centered around the classification of a supervisor and what part these employees played during employment decisions. Because of this recent decision, many current employment law cases required second looks, including one sexual harassment case out of Illinois.
In the lawsuit, the yard worker explains that he was fired a short time after filing multiple sexual harassment and racial discrimination claims with his employer. According to the employee, nothing was ever done about his claims and later sued, claiming that his employer should have taken action in connection with his claims. Initially, his claims were denied because the court says that the worker “failed to report the problem to someone with authority to address it.” That decision has since been reversed, which may have been, due in part, because of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
According to the new ruling, the yard worker will be allowed to pursue his claims of sexual harassment once more. As the court explains, using past cases as support for their decision, the fact that the employee did not issue his complaints with a supervisor is a moot point because it could have been reasonably expected by the employee that his complaint would have been referred up the ladder to some who was authorized to take employment action. It is the hope now that the lower courts will see the case this way as well.
Source: Caselaw.findlaw.com, "LAMBERT v. PERI FORMWORKS SYSTEMS INC," Seventh Circuit Court, July 24, 2013