Schubert, Gallagher, Tyler & Mulcahey
Law Offices of Schubert Bellwoar
Home About Us Practice Areas Attorney Profiles News Employment FAQs Contact Us Site Map Search
News: Prompt and Adequate Remedial Actions Protect Employer from Liability for Harassment

Prompt and Adequate Remedial Actions Protect Employer from Liability for Harassment

While working at Temple University Hospital, Jacqueline Young had several conflicts with a co-worker. She complained about these incidents to her direct supervisor, who engaged in progressive discipline (oral warning, written warning, suspension, etc.) with the co-worker, as provided under the collective bargaining agreement with the co-worker’s union. After working two years at Temple, Ms. Young told her supervisor that she was resigning because she had been harassed for too long by the co-worker and that no one was looking at the situation and her concerns. The co-worker was terminated a week after Ms. Young resigned.

Ms. Young sued Temple, claiming a hostile work environment and constructive discharge in violation of Title VII and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment in favor of Temple, ruling against Ms. Young.

She then appealed to the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

In the co-worker harassment context, a plaintiff may establish employer liability based on a theory of failure to take remedial action upon notice of harassment. The plaintiff must show that management knew or should have known about the harassment, but failed to take prompt and adequate remedial action. Even if not effective, an employer’s remedial action is adequate if it is reasonably calculated to end the harassment.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court that Ms. Young failed to establish a basis for employer liability. Here, following each complaint, the supervisor promptly disciplined the co-worker for his behavior toward Ms. Young and other employees. The discipline included oral warnings, written warnings, a suspension, and, ultimately, termination.

The only additional remedial action that Ms. Young complains Temple failed to take was transferring the co-worker out of her department. However, an employee can not dictate that the employer select a certain remedial action. Temple’s failure to transfer the co-worker does not by itself render its remedial actions inadequate.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the District Court that Temple’s actions were promptly taken and reasonably calculated to end the harassment. Because Temple took prompt and adequate remedial actions to address the harassment, Ms. Young’s hostile environment and constructive discharge claims must fail.

Hence, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the District Court. Young vs. Temple University Hospital, 2009 WL 5159764 (C.A.3 (Pa.)).



Return to News




Home | About Us | Practice Areas | Attorney Profiles | News | Employment | FAQs | Contact Us
© 2018 Schubert, Gallagher, Tyler & Mulcahey. All rights reserved. Review Disclaimer.
Design and marketing by Legal Internet Solutions Incorporated.