Yes, the employer may automatically be liable if a supervisor’s harassment of an employee causes an adverse action such as termination, lost wages, or a suspension.
If a supervisor creates a hostile work environment for an employee (with no adverse action like being fired), then the employer can prevail only if it can prove:
- it reasonably tried to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior; and
- the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities offered by the employer, such as reporting the harassment to the employer.
If a non-supervisory employee harasses another employee, then the employer will be liable for the harassment if the employer knew, or should have known, about the hostile work environment and failed to promptly correct it.
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