The Plaintiff, who was the only black woman in the department, claimed that her coworkers viewed pornography in the cubicle next to her, and used racist and sexist language in her presence on a "daily basis." She claimed the harassment was so severe and pervasive that she was forced to quit.
Although the employer maintained an anti-harassment handbook policy and took some steps in response to the Plaintiff's complaints, the court found that the steps were ineffective. “There was a clear pattern in this case of complaints by Medley and then responses by Central that consistently failed to end the harassment.”
The Court noted that the defendant could have "demoted the four primary offenders, suspended them from work, reduced their pay, or issued them written reprimands," but did not. The Court added
We want to emphasize, however, that we are not attempting to create an exhaustive list of remedial measures an employer could employ, nor do we intend our opinion to be read as suggesting that Central could have prevailed on summary judgment if it employed a particular combination of the remedial steps we identified above. Instead, we list these measures to illustrate the types of remedial actions that Central did not take and that a rational jury could find would have been reasonably calculated to end the harassment.
The Court clearly was not impressed with the employer's attempts to stop the harassment in this case, and found summary judgment to be inappropriate.
EEOC v. Central Wholesalers, Incorporated, No. 081181 (4th Cir. July 21, 2009)