BURLINGTON INDUSTRIES INC V ELLERTH PDF

The Court today manufactures a rule that employers are vicariously liable if supervisors create a sexually hostile work environment, subject to an affirmative defense that the Court barely attempts to define. As a result, employer liability under Title VII is judged by different standards depending upon whether a sexually or racially hostile work environment is alleged. EEOC , F. See 1 B. Grossman, Employment Discrimination Law 10—11 3d ed. A hostile environment claim required the plaintiff to show that his work environment was so pervaded by racial harassment as to alter the terms and conditions of his employment.

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Ellerth addressed sexual harassment in the workplace, with the Supreme Court establishing guidelines for employers who hope to make an affirmative defense against such complaints. Specifically, under Burlington, employers must show that they exercised reasonable care in creating and putting policies and procedures into effect along with promptly remedying any sexually harassing behavior; they must also show that employees did not take reasonable steps to use the available procedures to address the situations or otherwise avoid the harms.

Facts of the Case In Burlington, a female salesperson in Illinois alleged that a midlevel manager to whom her supervisor reported made repeated offensive remarks and gestures that led to her quitting the job. Burlington and its companion case of Faragher v. Earlier cases placed sexual harassment claims into two categories: quid pro quo and hostile environment. Employers continue to be found strictly or automatically liable in quid pro quo cases. Most courts do not hold an employer automatically liable for this type of discrimination.

While the Burlington Court reasoned that these categories are still helpful in analyzing the claims, particularly for the threshold question of whether sexual harassment occurred, these conditions are not required. Instead, in Burlington the Court established strict employer liability for all circumstances of supervisor sexual harassment, but it gave the employer an opportunity, though an affirmative defense, to show that it should not be held responsible when the employee suffered no tangible adverse employment impact such as a firing, failure to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a significant change in benefits.

In order to utilize the defense and avoid liability for the harassment, the Court explained that an employer must prove two things. First, the Court maintained that an employer must exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior. Second, the Court pointed out that it is necessary to consider whether an employee unreasonably fails to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities that an employer provides to avoid harm.

Regina R.

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Burlington Industries v. Ellerth

PDF version Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus headnote will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Slowik was a mid-level manager who had authority to hire and promote employees, subject to higher approval, but was not considered a policy-maker. The District Court granted Burlington summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit en banc reversed in a decision that produced eight separate opinions and no consensus for a controlling rationale.

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Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742 (1998)

Slowik was a midlevel manager who had authority to hire and promote employees, subject to higher approval, but was not considered a policymaker. The District Court granted Burlington summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit en bane reversed in a decision that produced eight separate opinions and no consensus for a controlling rationale. The threats, however, were not carried out. Cases based on carried-out threats are referred to often as "quid pro quo" cases, as distinct from bothersome attentions or sexual remarks sufficient to create a "hostile work environment. Vinson, U. This rule encouraged Title VII plaintiffs to state their claims in quid pro quo terms, which in turn put expansive pressure on the definition.

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