Case Analysis of Faragher V. City of Boca Raton

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Facts: Between 1985 and 1990 Beth Ann Faragher worked part time and during the summers as an ocean lifeguard for the Marine Safety Section of the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Boca Raton, Florida. During this time, Faragher's immediate supervisors were Bill Terry, David Silverman, and Robert Gordan. Two years after resigning as a lifeguard in 1990, Beth Ann Faragher brought an action against the City of Boca Raton, Terry and Silverman alleging the supervisors had created a sexually hostile atmosphere by touching, remarking, and commenting. Faragher asserted that this conduct constituted discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1986 the City adopted a sexual harassment policy, however the policy did not reach the Marine Safety Section where Faragher worked. Faragher did not make any formal complaints against Terry or Silverman. A fellow employee did make a complaint and after investigation they were found to have behaved improperly and reprimanded.

Issue: May an employer be held liable under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for an employee when the harassment has created a hostile work environment?

Holding: An employer is liable for actionable discrimination caused by a supervisor, but subject to an affirmative defense looking to the reasonableness of the employer's conduct as well as that of the plaintiff victim. In trial the District Court found that the supervisors' behavior was discriminatory harassment sufficiently serious to alter the conditions of her employment and constitute an abusive working environment. The Court further held the City liable because the city failed to properly disseminate the sexual harassment policy to all employees and properly enforce this policy. Also, the supervisors represented the City and city management failed to provide any reviews over this section but allowed the supervisors "unchecked authority". The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, finding...
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