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Your Employee Matters


By June 1, 2010No Comments

The Federal Fourth Circuit Court has ruled that a plaintiff could proceed to trial on her claim of sexual harassment and constructive discharge after she had worked with the alleged harasser for only two days. Whitten v. Fred’s, Inc. involved an employee transferred to the Fred’s store in Belton, SC, where she worked as an assistant manager for two days. During those two days, the store manager made it clear he was unhappy that the plaintiff had been transferred to his store, repeatedly called her dumb and stupid, and told her he didn’t want her working in his store. He also told her to “be good to [him] and give [him] what [he] wanted,” adding that he would make her life a “living hell” if she ever took work matters over his head. On two occasions, he walked behind her and pressed his genitals against her back. Two days after she started this assignment (on a Sunday), the plaintiff told three company officials about the conduct and said she was going to quit. However, she got nowhere, with one manager telling her she had overreacted. She quit that day and reported the matter to the company’s corporate office the following day. The company investigated but took no action. Although the district court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment, the Court of Appeals reversed, ruling that the plaintiff had a prima facie case of sex harassment, including her claim for constructive discharge, and remanded the case for trial.