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Summary Judgment Awarded to Employer on Harassment, Retaliation Claims

A cashier at our client, convenience store chain Spectrum Stores, Inc., was terminated for not showing up for work. He sued in federal court in Georgia. The plaintiff, in his early 20's, alleged that he was sexually harassed by his over-50 female supervisor. He claimed she touched him inappropriately, grabbed him and rubbed up against him. He claimed his termination was in retaliation for his not responding to the supervisor’s sexual advances.

We moved for summary judgment and our motion was granted. First, the court held that the plaintiff’s termination was not based upon his sex, but rather upon his failure to show up for work. Because no tangible employment action was taken against the plaintiff because of his sex, the court analyzed whether any hostile work environment sexual harassment was created by the supervisor. It held that even assuming the supervisor created a sexually hostile work environment, the plaintiff’s claim still failed as a matter of law because the company had issued a sexual harassment policy with reasonable reporting mechanisms and the employee failed to avail himself of any of those mechanisms. The plaintiff alleged that complaining would do no good because his supervisor was the harasser. The court disagreed, noting that the company’s policy provided alternate avenues for complaint, including a company vice president and a toll-free hotline. 

Daniel v. Spectrum Stores, Inc., 381 F.Supp.2d 1386 (M.D. Ga. 2005).


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