Two Key Concepts in Sexual Harassment Law: Retaliation and Third-Party Harassment

In a recent case in Kansas, two interesting aspects of sexual harassment law were examined. In the case of Ann Shaeffer v. Anderson Management/U-Stor Self-Storage, Shaeffer claimed to have been harassed by the storage facility’s husband and subsequently fired for reporting the harassment.

The sexual harassment claim was successful while the retaliation claim failed. Our NYC sexual harassment lawyers explain why:

The U-Stor’s site manager lived on the property, along with her children and husband. While working at the storage facility, Ann Shaeffer alleges the husband repeatedly touched her breasts, exposed himself, made inappropriate comments, and attempted more sexual contact.

In accordance with company policy, Shaeffer reported the sexual harassment to her supervisor – who happened to be the harasser’s wife. The manger reportedly did nothing to stop the inappropriate behavior.

In May 2012, the site manager terminated Shaeffer because she claims Shaeffer violated an unrelated company policy involving the auction bidding of the content of delinquent storage units. She told the manager she did not know a certain bidder who won a unit auction, although the bidder’s address matched Shaeffer’s home address.

Then, Shaeffer filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and retaliation. According to court documents, Shaeffer believes she was fired for reporting harassment.

Although the site manager’s husband did not work for the U-Stor, the company was still found guilty of sexual harassment. This is because if an employer knows about third-party harassment – or should have known- and fails to take reasonable care to stop the harassment and prevent future instances, they can be found legally liable in court.

So, the courts ruled in Shaeffer’s favor for the claim of sexual harassment. However, her separate retaliation claim was dismissed because the courts found her violation of the company’s auction policy, and lied about her association with the bidder in question. Thus, her termination could have occurred regardless of the reports of sexual harassment.

In New York City, you have the right to work in an environment free of harassment. Victims of sexual harassment are entitled to compensation, and our NYC lawyers can help you quickly resolve a claim in your favor.

The Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC handles a multitude of cases that involve sexual harassment in Manhattan and the greater New York City area. For further information, please feel free to call us at 212-587-0760 or toll-free at 1-877-4NYLAWS or email at dtslaws@msn.com.

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