Do You Know Who Your 'Supervisors' Are?
Historically, the federal courts have been far from uniform in their views regarding the circumstances under which employers may be held liable for sexually harassing conduct committed by their supervisory personnel. In June of 1998, however, the United States Supreme Court issued two decisions, Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 and Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742, in which the Court clarified the standard to be employed in determining employer liability for a sexually hostile work environment created by a supervisor. In Faragher and Ellerth, the Supreme Court ruled that employers are strictly liable for acts of sexual harassment perpetrated by their supervisory-level employees that are so egregious as to violate Title VII. Notably, the Court left open the definition of "supervisor."