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We all know that Title VII prohibits discrimination because of sex. But what does this phrase really mean in the context of hostile working environments? Courts repeatedly state that Title VII is not a civility code; however, more and more hostile working environment cases are going to the jury. Employees use the term "harassment" with increasing frequency when they feel that they are not being treated fairly. We also know, however, that Title VII is not a law that dictates "fairness." It dictates that an employer cannot discriminate against an individual because of a protected class. When behavior crosses the line into unlawful harassment is an issue still being battled in the courts. And, we are no longer just talking about "sexual harassment" in the context of a man or woman engaging in inappropriate behavior with members of the opposite sex. The Supreme Court has held that "same sex" harassment is actionable and courts are now increasingly finding that harassment because an employee doesn't meet societal stereotypes is also actionable. What's an employer to do?
Why should you attend:
When Congress passed Title VII in 1964, the addition of the word "gender" as a protected class was added in an effort to ensure defeat of the bill - not to gain equal employment opportunity in the workplace. Congress certainly did not have harassment on its mind when it passed the bill. We all know now that "sexual harassment" is prohibited under Title VII. What we are still grappling with is just what is "sexual harassment"? And, even though there is still not a clear concept of where inappropriate behavior crosses the line into harassment, courts and juries don't hesitate to award significant damages when they determine that harassment has occurred. The EEOC won a $20 million dollar jury verdict for eight employees who claimed sexual harassment. Another jury awarded over $10 million to an employee who claimed that her supervisor discussed his sexual fantasies with her.
Areas Covered in the Session:
Who Will Benefit:
- Learning how harassment law has evolved since the passage of Title VII
- What do we really mean when we say discrimination "because of sex"?
- Analyzing Supreme Court decisions and how lower courts are using the cases to cover individuals who don't meet our societal stereotypes
- What is "same sex" harassment? Does the concept give protection to homosexuals even though homosexuality is not a protected class under Title VII?
- Analyzing lower court decisions of "who is the supervisor"?
- Understanding what is a tangible employment action?
- What should be in a harassment policy?
- How to conduct a proper investigation and how to document the investigation
- Understanding how your company may be an employer even if you're not signing the paycheck
- How to avoid retaliation claims
- Understanding the new theories of sex discrimination
- Why there is a rise in racial harassment claims
- Analyzing pending legislation
- Human Resource Managers
- Company Owners
- Senior HR Professionals
- HR Analysts
- HR Personnel
- Employee Relations Professionals
Susan Fahey Desmond is a Principal in the New Orleans, Louisiana, office of Jackson Lewis P.C which has offices in 59 cities across the country. She has been representing management in the area of labor and employment law since her graduation from the University of Tennessee School Of Law. She is a frequent speaker and author on a number of labor and employment issues. She is named in Best Lawyers in America and has been named by Chambers USA as one of America's leading business lawyers for labor and employment law.