Legal

Harassment Judgment

By Mark Kobata

Jun. 26, 2015

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought sexual harassment and retaliation for opposing sexual harassment claims against New Breed Logistics on behalf of four former New Breed employees.

A jury returned a verdict of $1.5 million against New Breed and the alleged harasser. New Breed appealed, arguing that three of the plaintiffs had not engaged in protected activity sufficient to support a retaliation claim. 

New Breed specifically argued that the three employees did not complain about harassment. Instead, they merely told the alleged harasser, their supervisor, to stop his harassing behavior. New Breed argued that simply asking the harasser to stop his behavior did not qualify as protected activity because it does not amount to “opposition” to unlawful behavior under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. New Breed took the position that employees need to actually complain to someone, rather than simply ask the harasser to stop, to be engaged in protected activity.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected this argument, holding that telling a supervisor to stop his or her alleged harassing behavior qualified as “opposition” to unlawful activity under Title VII. Thus, according to the 6th Circuit, an employer can be liable for retaliation against an employee even where the only thing an employee does to “oppose” harassment is to tell the person doing the harassing to stop. EEOC v. New Breed Logistics, 2015 BL 114197, 6th Cir., No. 13-6250 (April 22, 2015)

IMPACT:Employers can be guilty of retaliation even where the only person aware of the protected activity is the harasser. Since employers should not expect harassers to report complaints about their alleged harassment, this makes it crucial that employees be well-educated in how and when to report harassment.  

  

   

Mark Kobata and Marty Denis are partners at the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has offices in Beverly Hills, California, and Chicago.

About Workforce.com

blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

Compliance

Minimum Wage by State in 2022 – All You Need to Know

Summary The federal minimum wage rate is $7.25, but the rate is higher in 30 states, along with Washing...

federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance

workforce blog

Legal

California’s push for a 32-hour workweek explained, and how to prepare

Summary: California is considering a 32-hour workweek bill for businesses with over 500 staff 4 day wee...

32 hour workweek, 4 day workweek, california, legislature, overtime

workforce blog

Legal

A business owner’s guide to restaurant tipping law

Business owners in the restaurant industry are in a unique position when it comes to employee tips. As ...

restaurants, tip laws, tipping