Courts have made it clear that for employers to successfully defend claims of unlawful harassment where the employee has not suffered a job loss or other tangible employment action, employers should present evidence of:
- A policy prohibiting unlawful harassment in the workplace that has been distributed to all employees;
- Regular training for employees on the policy; and
- Enforcement of the policy through effective investigations and corrective actions.
For employers who have not updated their anti-harassment policies or do not regularly engage in company-wide training, the Supreme Court has now given another reason to do so. As noted in our advisory dated June 27, 2013, in Vance v. Ball State Univ., 2013 WL 3155228 (June 24, 2013), by narrowly defining the definition of "supervisor" under federal discrimination laws, the United States Supreme Court has expanded opportunities for employers to successfully defend against these claims when they have followed the guidelines set forth above. Therefore, it is now more important than ever that all anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies be brought current and all employees be trained on these updated policies. With these simple steps, employers can position themselves to defend against future claims of unlawful harassment.
If you would like assistance in reviewing and updating your policies or in conducting training, please contact a member of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney's Labor & Employment Section.