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Prompt response key in hostile environment cases

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Employers that quickly respond to employee sexual harassment and hostile environment complaints cut their liability.

Recent case: Kimberly Hoyle made a series of complaints about her co-workers. For example, she didn’t like the swimsuit calendars some workers had in their work spaces. She also complained when she caught a glimpse of a photo in a toolbox of a co-worker’s wife wearing a swimsuit and when she found a photo of a naked woman on a work computer.

The company immediately got rid of the calendars, made sure all employees removed items that were not work-related (such as photos) from their toolboxes and scanned all workplace computers for offensive photos.

Hoyle sued anyway, alleging a sexually hostile environment.

The court tossed out her case, reasoning that the company had acted fast to eliminate the source of her complaints. (Hoyle v. Freightliner, No. 3:07-CV-00169, WD NC, 2009)

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