Neely v. McDonald’s Corporation, 2009 WL 2431294 (3d Cir., August 10, 2009) – The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the adequacy of an employer’s action in response to a harassment complaint is determined at the time the remedy is put into place, not by whether the harassment actually ends. Therefore, the fact that an offender persists in the offensive conduct does not preclude a determination that the remedy was adequate.
The plaintiff, a McDonald’s employee, complained of sexual harassment by her shift supervisor. The plaintiff’s managers commenced an immediate investigation, ultimately determining that the shift supervisor had violated the company’s “zero-tolerance” policy. The shift supervisor was given a written warning and the plaintiff was moved to a different shift. Thereafter, the shift supervisor began staying over on the same shift as the plaintiff, eventually working with her several hours a day. When he touched her leg, the plaintiff quit her job and filed suit claiming hostile work environment under Title VII.
Citing its previous decision in Knabe v. Boury Corp., 114 F.3d 407 (3d Cir. 1997), the court reminded employers that a remedy is adequate if it is “reasonably calculated to prevent further harassment,” whether or not it actually succeeds in doing so.
Note: This article was published in the September 2009 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.