Monday, April 2, 2012

Harassment policies help limit employer liability

Masuda Funai Eifert & Mitchell Ltd
Brian Caster
March 26 2012

Companies should make sure they have in place preventive or corrective policies for handling harassment in the workplace. As the Eighth Circuit recently reaffirmed in Crawford v. BNSF Railway Company, an employer with an effective preventive harassment policy can use this as a shield to vicarious liability for an employee’s harassment.

In Crawford, several employees allegedly suffered sexual and racial harassment at the hands of a supervisor. The employees did not report the supervisor’s behavior to their employer, BNSF, nor did they take advantage of BNSF’s “zero tolerance” harassment policy. Once BNSF found out about the supervisor’s behavior, it took remedial measures, eventually terminating the supervisor.

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