Supervisor Says Sorry for Boorish Behavior

By Daniel Saeedi, Rachel Schaller

Jul. 27, 2018

Jacqueline Lee overheard her supervisor, Don Egge, discussing his desire for her to begin wearing her “spring outfits,” describing her and another employee as “here come the jugs” and discussing another employee who was “banging someone.”

Lee reported Egge to HR. HR’s investigation confirmed Egge made these comments. Egge apologized to Lee, acknowledged his words were not appropriate and promised it would not happen again. He further promised not to retaliate against Lee. Because there were no other available positions, HR asked Lee to return to work as Egge’s subordinate.

Dissatisfied with HR’s response, Lee resigned from her position. That same day, Egge was suspended for two weeks without pay.

Lee sued the company for fostering a hostile work environment. The court found the company not liable on two grounds.

First, under the law of the Seventh Circuit, a single incident does not create a sexually hostile work environment unless it is tied to physical violence or the direct solicitation of sex. Egge’s conduct, while boorish, was not directed to Lee (she overheard the conversation) and was not severe enough to create a hostile work environment.

Second, the company took appropriate remedial action. It conducted a prompt and thorough investigation, elicited an apology from Egge and his commitment not to retaliate or engage in further harassment, and suspended Egge for two weeks without pay. Lee v. Dairyland Power Cooperative, No. 17-cv-50-wmc, 2018 WL 1401274 (W.D. Wis. March 20, 2018).

IMPACT: Not all offensive conduct creates a hostile work environment. And while complaints of harassment are on the rise, employers can protect themselves from liability by enforcing well-crafted sexual harassment policies.

What’s New at

blog workforce

Come see what we’re building in the world of predictive employee scheduling, superior labor insights and next-gen employee apps. We’re on a mission to automate workforce management for hourly employees and bring productivity, optimization and engagement to the frontline.

Book a call
See the software
workforce news

Related Articles

workforce blog


Minimum Wage by State in 2023 – All You Need to Know

Summary Twenty-three states and D.C. raised their minimum wage rates in 2023, effective January 1.  Thr...

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

workforce blog


New Labor Laws Taking Effect in 2023

The new year is fast approaching, and with its arrival comes a host of new labor laws that will impact ...

labor laws, minimum wage, wage and hour law

workforce blog


Wage and Hour Laws in 2022: What Employers Need to Know

Whether a mom-and-pop shop with a handful of employees or a large corporation staffing thousands, compl...

compliance, wage and hour law