There are many different aspects to employment law; and just as many facets to discriminatory practices. Employment lawyers have to stay current on the many changes these laws undergo as rulings set the precedent for future cases. Cases like Faragher v. Boca Raton are the types of cases that draw many lawyers into studying employment law to begin with. The many transformations that NJ employment law undergoes is what drew Ty Hyderally to the field to being with. This is one of the types of cases that helps keep employment law interesting.
In 1998 the United States Supreme Court heard and decided Faragher v. Boca Raton. This case set the precedent for qualifying those circumstances for which employers could be held liable for an employee whom they have placed in a supervisory position. The company can be held liable if the supervisory employee creates a hostile work environment for workers under them.
Faragher and several other workers alleged that their supervisors had created a sexually hostile environment which included inappropriate touching which was unsolicited. The supervisors also spoke about women in general using offensive terms. Faragher alleged that the supervisors specifically told her that she should date him, or clean toilets for a year. There were many such instances cited. Although another female worker had brought the instances to the attention of the city, the hiring party, no actions had been taken.
The defense tried to say that it was a personal issue with the supervisors and had nothing to do with their employment. And they made the point that their views were not necessarily those of the employer. Another point was that Faragher’s job or position was not threatened and therefore it did not qualify as “harassment.” The city was unaware and they proposed that the City did not have a need to know about the situation. This was based on the fact that the incidents were spaced out over a long period of time and in a remote facility. The final point was that if it was a more serious issue, Faragher would have reported it sooner to the proper authorities.
Faragher felt like the situation was used to help the supervisors carry out the harassment. She maintained that the supervisors tried to use their position of authority to try to demean workers while making offensive statements. However, some felt that the city should not be the one responsible for ill actions of their employees. Faragher’s defense stated that since the offenses occurred on the job site while she was working for the city they are indeed the ones who should be held responsible.
The 7-2 opinion of the court determined that the City was responsible for the actions of their employee’s actions. This finding was based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Therefore the City was finally charged with an act of discrimination caused by a supervisor. This set the precedent for other similar cases where an employer is held responsible for the discriminatory practices of an individual that the administration placed in a leadership or supervisory position.