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Hostile Workplace Harassment - Employers Are Liable

For many years, employees had to prove a tangible financial or job related harm to win a sexual harassment lawsuit, however in Ellerth v Burlington Industries the court ruled that employers are now liable for Hostile Workplace Harassment even if the employee did not suffer financial or job harm.

The Supreme Court has weighed in on Hostile Workplace Harassment with their landmark decision on Ellerth v. Burlington Industries. Prior to this decision employees who were harassed had to prove a financial or job-related harm was caused by the harassment. This made the hurdle to prove harassment a high one. With the new decision employers are now liable for the hostile environment the employee endured.

The plaintiff in Ellerth v. Burlington was threatened and harassed by her boss for over a year, but did not suffer any financial or job-related loss. In fact, she was actually promoted by that boss. Burlington had argued that because she had not suffered a job-related loss that they were not liable. The court ruled 7-2 in Ms. Ellerth's favor. She was allowed to recover damages for Hostile Workplace Harassment.

This change in the Sexual Harassment is crucial for employers to address. No longer can they rely on defending themselves with the same defense as Burlington. If the supervisor threatens to not to promote an employee unless he receives sexual favors and doesn't follow through, the employer is still liable for making the workplace hostile for that employee.

Employers now need to train their employees on this aspect of harassment. Hostile Workplace Harassment can be unwanted jokes, touching, leering, threats or anything else that makes the workplace hostile for that employee. The behavior does not even have to be directed at the employee who files the claim. Employees can feel the environment is hostile by overhearing and working within the environment. JokesPsychology Articles, threats and other behavior have no place in the workplace and training employees will keep the company out of court and make the workplace a more productive one.

Article Tags: Hostile Workplace Harassment, Hostile Workplace, Workplace Harassment

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Charlie Bentson King is a freelance writer.

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