No Title VII Liability Where Employer Had No Time to Address Harassment Complaint
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that an employer was not liable for a co-worker’s hostile environment harassment of an employee where the employee resigned before the employer had the chance to address her complaint.
In Cooper v. The Smithfield Packing Co., the Fourth Circuit found that the employer maintained a sexual harassment policy, conducted training, and provided a hotline for employees to report concerns anonymously. Nonetheless, the employee failed to report the harassment for years, and only reported the harassment a few days before she resigned. The Fourth Circuit found that the employer never had the chance to address her complaint, and therefore was not liable for the alleged harassment. This case emphasizes the importance, legally and practically, of developing, distributing and training employees on a comprehensive and effective harassment policy.