Lifeguards-Manners Matter-And Who To Tell

Beth Ann Faragher worked in Boca Raton as a city lifeguard to help pay her way through college. She was subjected to repeated offensive comments and gestures by two male supervisors. Ms Farragher, in addition to the unwelcomed constant comments, was patted on the thighs and buttocks repeatedly. Her complaint to a beach SUPERVISOR brought no results.

In 1994, after a week long trial, a US District Court ordered the men to pay $47,500 in damages for battery and violating the woman's civil rights. The judge did chastise a Boca Raton director of personnel and maintained that he exhibited a somewhat cavalier attitude toward the complaints. Though the judge rejected some of the claims, he concluded that the harassment was severe and abusive, and that the city should have known about it.

Both Ms. Farragher and the City of Boca Raton appealed the judge's ruling. The Federal Appeals court in Atlanta ruled for the city saying that when a Supervisor is acting "On a frolic of his own" the employer cannot be blamed.

In reviewing that judgement the Supreme Court will have to consider whether boca Raton should have had a clear sense of what was happening at the beach and whether it should have done more to discourage harassment. The high court in 1986 did weigh in and helped launch modern sexual harassment litigation, when it ruled that the Federal job discrimination law, Title VII, protects people against hostile work environments.

The Court will have to define the liability an employer faces from its Supervisors!!

Have you had a problem with supervisory liability regarding instances of sexual harassment???