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Sexual harassment by senior executives August 9, 2016

CSuiteWe have seen a significant increase in sexual harassment cases involving senior corporate executives. For those unfamiliar with the legal rules that apply in sexual harassment cases, employers are liable for sexual harassment by co-workers only if the employer was negligent in discovering or stopping the harassment. Liability rules change somewhat when the sexual harassment is perpetrated by a supervisor with hiring and firing authority. If the sexual harassment results in a termination, demotion, pay cut of other tangible employment action, the employer is strictly liable. If not, then the employer is allowed to raise a defense that it exercised reasonable care in preventing sexual harassment from occurring, and that the employee failed to make use of the procedures the employer made available to investigate and remedy sexual harassment. However, when sexual harassment is perpetrated by a member of the C-Suite (for example, the CEO, COO, President, Owner or another senior corporate executive), liability is always automatic and strict. This is because the law draws no distinction between the corporate entity and the executive officers who control it for purposes of sexual harassment liability. Such officers are considered the corporation’s proxy or alter-ego. If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted by a senior corporate officer at work, you may have important rights under the law. Call us today at 412-258-2250 for a consultation.

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