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Wipe out harassment or face state and federal lawsuits

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

A recent federal trial court decision has given new ammo to employees who want to sue their employers for sexual harassment—especially if the alleged harassment involves any kind of touching.

The victim can sue in state court for assault and battery and still take a Title VII sexual harassment case to federal court.

Recent case: Carrie Schaeffer worked at an agricultural products distributorship. She alleged that the company owner harassed her by trying to kiss her, reaching under her shirt to touch her breasts and forcing her to sit on his lap, among other things.

When Schaeffer filed a state tort action for assault and battery, a jury said she hadn't been assaulted. She then filed a federal sexual harassment claim.

The court said she could do that—because sexual harassment is different from assault and battery. (Schaeffer v. Lampley, No. 07-5498, ED PA, 2008)

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