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EMPLOYER’S FAILURE TO INVESTIGATE SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIM IS EXCUSED


The Ninth Circuit recently ruled that an employer is not liable for failure to investigate a sexual harassment claim, when the employee asked that the employer allow him to deal with the matter "on his own."

In this case, an employee complained to his employer that another employee had sexually harassed him. The employee did not provide specific details of the conduct complained of, and the employee asked that the employer allow him to handle the situation on his own and give him a chance to remedy the situation without employer involvement. Although the employer agreed with the employee’s request, the employee later sued the employer for failing to investigate his sexual harassment claim.

The Ninth Circuit held that the employer’s failure to conduct an investigation into the employee’s sexual harassment claim was excused because the complaining employee wanted to deal with the situation on his own and did not provide sufficient details about the unwanted conduct. As such, no duty to investigate was imposed upon the employer.

Despite the holding of the Ninth Circuit, employers should be diligent to obtain details and take seriously all sexual harassment claims.

Hardage v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc., 427 F.3d 1177 (9th Cir. 2005)

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Related Attorney(s):
Robert M. Freedman

Related Practice Area(s):
Employment and Labor Law

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