Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers may be liable for sexual harassment created by non-employees. Examples include: (1) Sexual Harassment of a food service worker by customers. Lockard v. Pizza Hut, Inc., 162 F.3d 1062 (10th Cir. 1998); (2) Sexual assault of a psychologist by a mental hospital patient. Turnbull v. Topeka State Hospital, 255 F3d 1238 (10th Cir. 2001); (3) And, Sexual Harassment of correctional officers by inmates. Beckford v. Department of Corrections, 605 F.3d 951, 957-959 (11th Cir. 2010). To establish employer liability, an employee must prove that non-employees have cause a sexually abusive hostile work environment, the employer knew, or should have known, about it, and the employer failed to take reasonable measures to curtail the sexual harassment. Wilbur Smith, PC is currently litigating a case where deputy sheriffs allege that their employer has failed to take reasonable measures to curtail sexual harassment by inmates.
We recently represented the lead plaintiff in an EEOC discrimination case against an oil drilling company. He worked on an oil-drilling rig in Rifle Colorado. Because he had the courage to take action, his charge of discrimination evolved into a nationwide class-action. The case arose out of ethnic discrimination against Hispanic employees and a hostile work environment. With tremendous support from the Denver EEOC Field Office, we obtained a settlement that shared in a $14,500,000.00 nationwide class-action settlement. We also obtained equitable remedies that required substantial changes in the defendant company’s corporate policies.
A new Colorado law has strengthened employee rights to expand remedies for sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and other forms of discrimination. The law modifying the Colorado Civil Rights act went into effect on January 1, 2015. A good summary of the law is published in the Denver Law Review.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is on the United States Supreme Court’s docket for arguments on Wednesday December 3, 2014. The Justices will hear argument from attorneys about whether employers who offer light duty to injured males should also offer light duty to pregnant females who are prescribed light duty by their doctors. The case involves Peggy Young, a UPS driver. When Peggy Young became pregnant, her doctor advised her to avoid heavy lifting. Rather than accommodate her with a light duty assignment, the company put her on unpaid leave. She lost pay and benefits for seven months. The Court is not likely to reach a decision until weeks or months after hearing arguments. The Court’s final decision will have a wide reach as 62% of American women who gave birth in the previous year were working during pregnancy. Full article in the New York Times