Legal Brief: Pennsylvania State Police V. Suders

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Legal Brief: Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders
Facts:
Pennsylvania State Police hired Nancy Drew Suders as a police communications operator. •Suder’s supervisors were Sergeant Eric D. Easton, Patrol Corporal William D. Baker, and Corporal Eric B. Prendergast. •Suders was subject to sexual harassment from all three of her supervisors during the term of her employment. •Easton would mention the subject of people having sex with animals each time Suders entered the office. •Easton told fellow supervisor, Prendergast in front of Suders that young girls should be taught how to give men oral sex. •Easton would sit near Suders with spandex shorts and spread his legs apart. •Baker made obscene gestures which involved grabbing his genitals and shouting out a vulgar comment inviting oral sex. He would make this gesture 5-10 times per night throughout Suder’s employment. •Baker would also rub his rear end in front of Suder and remark, “I have a nice ass, don’t I?” •Suder’s contacted Virginia Smith-Elliot, PSP’s equal opportunity officer, five months after being hired stating that she was being harassed at work and was afraid. •Smith-Elliot’s response came across as insensitive and unhelpful to Suder’s. •Two days later Suder’s resigned from the force.

She decided to sue PSP alleging that she had been subject to sexual harassment and constructively discharged and forced to resign. •The U.S. District Court held that although evidence was sufficient to conclude that Suder’s supervisors engaged in sexual harassment, PSP was not vicariously liable for the supervisors’ conduct. •The U.S. Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for trial on the merits against PSP. PSP appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Issue: Can an employer be held vicariously liable when the sexual harassment conduct of its employees is so severe that the victim of the harassment resigns? Rule of Law: As per title VII of the civil rights of 1969, creating a hostile and abusive work...
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