The defendant in this case was accused of unwanted touching of the plaintiff’s private parts and making inappropriate sexual statements. (See Frentz v. City of Elizabethtown, 2010 WL 4638768 (W.D. Ky.)) Plaintiff was fired and then went to complain to the Mayor. She admitted to having alcohol abuse issues and absenteeism issues.
Individuals cannot generally be held personally liable for violations of Title VII or the KCRA’s discrimination, sexually hostile work environment, or quid pro quo sexual harassment provisions. But, they can be individually liable if plaintiff can prove retaliatory conduct in violation of Kentucky Statute 344.280.
Plaintiff claimed she was fired for exercising her free speech regarding her reporting her sexual harassment matters, but this Section 1983 claim was dismissed by the court in that plaintiff never did report the sexual harassment and thus there was no free speech violated. So, Plaintiff filed her Louisville discrimination, harassment and hostile work environment lawsuit
Plaintiff also claims that there was gender discrimination in that she was treated differently than male employees in the terms and conditions of her employment regarding her ability to use sick leave and personal leave and terminating her employment. The defendants conceded this point but then did articulate a non-discriminatory basis for the firing of plaintiff. Defendants pointed to plaintiff’s absenteeism, tardiness, and poor work performance. Thus, it was then up to plaintiff to prove that these reasons were pretextual to her firing. Plaintiff could not do this.
Next, plaintiff alleged retaliation under both KCRA and Title VII. But, because plaintiff could not rebut defendants’ legitimate, nondiscriminatory basis for their actions, this count was dismissed as well. And, as stated earlier, the individuals are entitled to summary judgment as against them under Title VII retaliation claims. But, the Court still had to determine if they were entitled to summary judgment under the Kentucky statute. To this, the court determined that they were as well in that there was no evidence to support plaintiff’s claims of retaliation.
As to the hostile work environment claim, the court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The court held that the unwanted touching of plaintiff’s body along with the sexual innuendos, supported the hostile work environment claim. Also, as to the employer’s vicarious liability, the court allowed that to proceed as well in that an employer is vicariously liable for an actionable hostile work environment created by a supervisor with immediate (or successively higher) authority over the employee. The employer can raise an affirmative defense by showing that 1) it exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior and b) plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to avoid harm otherwise. In the case at hand, there was evidence that the policy was not widely disseminated or understood and that there was no training on the sexual harassment policy.
Finally, as to plaintiff’s quid pro quo sexual harassment claim, the court dismissed defendant’s summary judgment motion. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employee’s submission to unwanted sexual advances becomes either a condition for the receipt of job benefits, or the means to avoid an adverse employment action. In the case at hand it was very clear that plaintiff’s submission was a condition of receiving job benefits. Her Louisville discrimination, harassment and hostile work environment attorney did a good job.
If you have been the subject of a Louisville sexual discrimination and hostile work environment case, please call and speak to a Louisville sexual discrimination and hostile work environment lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew Alitowski, P.A. at 888-ASK-ANDREW (888-275-2637) or contact us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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