Burlington Northern Industries v. ELLERTH, 524 U.S. 742 (1998). U S Supreme Court
Kimberly Ellerth worked in Burlington’s Chicago office from March 1993 through May 1994, first as a merchandising assistant and later as a sales representative. Theodore Slowik was a New York based Vice-President of sales and marketing, supervising Ellerth’s immediate supervisors. Slowik made primarily the decision as to Ellerth’s hire and subsequent promotion. Ellerth spoke with Slowik when he traveled to her Chicago office and when she traveled to business related conferences in New York and elsewhere. Ellerth was required to get Slowik’s approval of special sales to her customers. Soon after Ellerth began working for Burlington, Slowik began to subject Ellerth to harassing acts and comments, coupled with threats that her refusal to submit would result in retaliation. For example, in the summer of 1993, Slowik made a series of comments about Ellerth’s legs and breasts. Ellerth never gave Slowik’s any indication that she was interested in him. Nonetheless, he continued to subject her to unwanted touching of her body. Ellerth resigned soon after Slowik refused to authorize a special project for one of Ellerth’s customers. Three weeks after resigning, Ellerth informed Slowik’s supervisors at Burlington that she had resigned due to Slowik’s harassment. She testified that she did not complain about Slowik’s harassment while still employed by Burlington because she feared for losing her job.
Should an employer be liable for a supervisor’s sexual harassment of an employee if the employee did not agree to or express any interest in her supervisor’s threats, if it didn’t result in any interference with their job?
The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
I strongly think that this case raises important issues regarding an employer’s liability for sexual harassment by a supervisor. Most harassed employees do...